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As an ex-player and GM of 3.5e, I loved the metamagic feats, and I feel bad for the fact that it isn't available in 5e. I want to make a homebrewed version of them, but before allowing my players to play with it, I want to have it reviewed, so I can rebalance it if something can break the game easily.

Here is the feat:

Metamagic Spell

Prerequisite: the Spellcasting feature

Choose one Metamagic option from the sorcerer's Metamagic feature, and one of your known spells. You can apply this Metamagic option to that spell when you cast it, but the spell slot you have to expend to cast the spell is equal to the spell's level + the cost in sorcery points for the chosen Metamagic option.

You can apply this option to a cantrip, but you have to spend a spell slot of a level equal to the cost in sorcery points for the chosen Metamagic option to do so.

You still can benefit from the "casting the spell at higher level" for the spell but the expended spell slot is treated as a spell slot of its level - the cost in sorcery points for the chosen Metamagic option for the spell effect.

You can take this feat multiple times, but you have to choose a different metamagic option and/or another spell each time.

For the flavour, it has the same penalties that the metamagic feats of 3.5e have and the fact that you have to spend spell slot instead of sorcery point and that you are limited to one spell per feat make the sorcerer still interesting. It may be underpowered, but that is also why I'm here.


Here some exemples to explain some points:

Prepared spells: When you cast the spell, you can choose whether or not you cast it with the metamagic effect.

"casting at higher level": I cast a carefull fireball. For it, I have spend a 4th level spell slot. For a counterspell, it is 4th level spell. But for the actual effect of the spell (for the number of dices rolled), it is a 3rd level spell slot. If now I use a 9th level spell slot, the spell is a 9th level for counterspell, but for the actual effect of the spell (for the number of dices rolled) it is an 8th level spell slot.

Twinned spells: If you cast a twinned spell, you have to spend a spell slot that is double the actual level of the spell. e. g. I want to cast a twinned cure wound(1st level spell), I have to spend a 2nd level spell slot. If now I want to cast it at higher level, let's say 4th level for the effect, I have to spend an 8th level spell slot (4 * 2 = 8). And yes, that mean that you can't have a twinned spell that is more than 4th level.


Related: What is the 5e wizard equivalent of the Still Spell and Silent Spell feats from 3.5e?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to make sure I'm understanding this feat fully: You choose 1 metamagic and 1 spell you can use that on. If something costs X Sorcery Points usually the spell now requires you to use a spell slots at least of the spell's level + X and those extra X levels don't count towards the "casting at higher levels" part of a given spell. For example: If one chose Twinned Spell the highest level spell they could choose would be a 4th level spell (requiring an 8th level slot to cast as such)? Also how does this apply to people who prepare spells and do not know them? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Apr 4 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you give an example of something you'd want to use this for? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Apr 4 at 21:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify what you mean by the third paragraph of the feat (re: casting the spell at a higher level)? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 4 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I think the idea is that spell slot levels used to replace sorcery points don't count toward the spell's level. So if your chosen metamagic option normally requires 2 sorcery points and you cast using a 7th level slot, the spell is cast with the metamagic at 5th level. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Apr 4 at 21:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon: Don't answer in comments (including partial or speculative answers). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 5 at 4:39
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I don't think this is breaking the game, in fact it seems underpowered, and doesn't feel fitting to 5e design principles. Compare it to the Martial Adept feat, which also gives a limited form of a unique class ability (fighter maneouvers) to characters of different classes:

Martial Adept

You have martial training that allows you to perform special combat maneuvers. You gain the following benefits:

• You learn two maneuvers of your choice from the Battle Master archetype. If the maneuver requires a saving throw, the DC is equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice).

• You gain 1 superiority die (if you don't already have superiority dice, it is a d6). This die is used to fuel your maneuvers. It is expended when you use it, and is regained when you finish a short or long rest.

A similar construction for a metamagic feat might be allowing the character to select one metamagic option, and they gain 2 sorcery points. They don't cast at a higher level or have any limitations on which spell they can use this metamagic on.

It would also mirror the Martial Adept feat in terms of being a viable and effective option for a character of the class that gets that ability normally. A battlemaster fighter with Martial Adept has two extra maneouvers and one more superiority dice, which is a nice bonus for a feat. And a sorcerer with my proposed metamagic feat would have one extra metamagic option and two extra sorcery points, which is similarly beneficial.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I had a similar thought about the Battlemaster feat as well and was surprised nobody else had mentioned it. Can you elaborate on your thought process for granting 2 sorcery points, though? I'm wondering if that's too low as it means many metamagics are off-limits for you (Heightened Spell, Twinned Spell for 3rd level and up); also when compared to the Battlemaster who can recover their superiority die on a short rest. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Jul 8 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical I was aiming for allowing a decent selection while still making your metamagic abilities noticeably poorer than those of a 3rd-level sorcerer. Although I suppose the fact that you don't have flexible casting and so can only regain your sorcery points on a long rest would also make it weaker. I'm not super sold on the exact numbers, I suppose, but I do like the thought of some metamagic options being sorcerer-exclusive. \$\endgroup\$ – Ettina Kitten Jul 8 at 16:04
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Define 'breaking the game'

As far as feats go this is actually quite lacklustre, so power wise definitely not game breaking. What you are doing here is effectively losing spell slots in order to gain a single limited use option, and spell slots are a casters primary currency so very valuable.

However:

D&D is based on classes, and giving class features to other classes risks breaking immersion, risks upsetting people who play those classes, and goes (for my liking) too much into having your cake and eating it territory.

TL/DR: I would not allow this feat regardless of 'balance'

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 as I totally agree that it "risks breaking immersion", but this is a Homebrew feat. There are features included in feat that cross the boundaries of "classes" such as Martial Adept and Magic Initiate. Also, sub-classes in traditional melee classes allow for spellcaster variations, and viceversa. It's tricksy! \$\endgroup\$ – Senmurv Apr 5 at 16:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Senmurv those feats expand class options, but don't really give class features. Getting weapon proficiency or spells aren't strictly the domain of any one class; unlike Metamagic. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Apr 5 at 16:27
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It is a nice Homebrew idea and I think this works as a feat but I would modify it so it becomes more adaptable and change what limits it.

I think it is wise that you added a restriction, such as it only being usable with one spell, but this also makes it quite a weak option as a feat. Take for instance the feat Elemental Adept (PHB p.166) for instance which does not have such a limit.

I would simplify the mechanic of the feat by stating that a spell-slot of equal value needs to be expended, e.g. if you use the Metamagic feat on a Fireball then you need to expend two 3rd-level spell slots. If you allow Cantrips to benefit from this feat, I would say a 1st level spell slot or equivalent needs to be expended. Personally, I would not allow this feat to work on the upcasted version of spells, i.e. using the At Higher Levels option available on some spells, but that's up to you as a DM.

I would limit the use of the feat by the number of times it is usable in between rests, e.g. you could use a mechanism similar to the Lucky feat (PHB p.167) and state, for example: "You may use this feat three times; you regain expended uses after a long rest." OR "You may use this once per short rest."

As an example, if a Cleric took this feat at 4th level, they could use the feat three times, but this would expend a lot of their spell slots. This will naturally balance any temptation to overuse or abuse the feat. It limits its use on spells above 5th level. A Cleric PC would need to be 19th level to be able to use this feat on a 6th level spell and 20th level for a 7th level spell. This way, you also don't step on the toes of the Sorcerer class, as much.

This would make the use of the feat adaptable and fun for your players and they can think creatively about how to use it in combination with their spells and in response the challenges your present to them in your adventures.

As per the Metamagic feature available to Sorcerers, I would keep the level boundary set with regards to leveling, where they get this ability at a minimum of 3rd, 10th and 17th levels respectively. (PHB p.101)

To keep this balanced and allow the feat to be taken multiple times, I would set a similar restriction, and only make it available from 4th level because of the "Variant Human Traits" option (PHB p.31) which can allow them to take feat at 1st level.

So, possibly something like this:

Prerequisite: 4th level. [...] You can select this feat multiple times. Each time you do so, you must choose a different Metamagic option. To take this feat twice, your character level must be 10 or higher; and 17 or higher if you wish to take this feat a third time. You may use only one Metamagic option on a spell when you cast it, unless otherwise noted.

My only concern is that this feat could potentially take away some of the flavour of what it is to be a Sorcerer. If I was a sorcerer in your campaign, I might be quite miffed if you offered this up to every "Tom, Dick and Harry" at the table. I would be asking for other signature class features would be available to me as a feat, like a limited use of the Rogue's Cunning Action for example. However, I think with the above limitations, this feat would not be unbalanced and would add flavour to a campaign.

Finally, your Homebrew feat cannot be "game breaking" as it does not exceed the features already offered in Metamagic to a Sorcerer, but the key is about finding the balance without impinging too much in the flavour of the existing Sorcerer class.

You know your campaign and players best and, if you think this homebrew would work well in your campaign, then why not implement it and give it a go.

You can always tell your players that you want to play-test the feat with them, but you might consider removing it or adapting it if you need to. Then, you have a nice get-out clause and hopefully no hard feelings if you do need to remove or change it later.

I hope this helps.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For the "sorcerer jealousy issue" I think it's sort of the case with all combat feats, and some feats like "ritual caster" \$\endgroup\$ – Rorp Apr 5 at 10:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rorp ...very good point! \$\endgroup\$ – Senmurv Apr 5 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ You claim that "Your Homebrew feat cannot be "game breaking" as it does not exceed the features already offered in Metamagic to a Sorcerer" but I don't understand this. Just because one class gets a feature does not mean it is balanced on every single other class. \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Apr 5 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 It kind of does in this instance, but you are entitled to disagree. There are other such examples, such as Martial Adept and Magic Initiate. This is a Homebrew feat and with a bit of tweaking it can be balanced and is certainly not "game breaking" especially with the limitations set. It would be nice to get some play-test feedback on it; then we will know. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Senmurv Apr 5 at 16:03
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No, it does not risk breaking the game.

In fact, I'd even argue that it's a little under-powered. Let's look at some of the current Feats available to spellcasters.

Elemental Adept: slight increase in damage due to rolled 1s counting as 2s, basically double damage vs creatures with resistance to your elemental type (as opposed to the damage you'd do without this feat vs those creatures) for all spells of your element damage type.

Spell Sniper: ignores cover and doubles range on every spell with a to hit roll .... gives you a free spell too!

War Caster: advantage on concentration saves, casting with your hands full (maybe even tied depending on your DM), and able to use any spell with an action cast time for opportunity attacks.

All of these feats affect multiple spells, so your feat that lets you tweak one spell, and at the cost of a higher spell slot, is a bit behind the curve.

Even when we consider broken combos that are already RAW

Warlock/Sorcerer with Eldritch Spear invocation, Distant Spell metamagic, and Spell Sniper feat using Eldritch Blast at a 1,200 foot range! It would take mounted opponents 9 rounds to close to melee!! At max level, that's up to 36d10 damage before they can swing once.

in the big picture they're still not game breaking.

I'd suggest removing the extra spell slot cost. I think allowing 1 spell to be affected by 1 metamagic per feat is a great way to let someone put a cool spin on their caster.

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