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Based on the original question from before, see it for some of the feedback considerations. The quick version is that this is intended as a hybrid of the chromatic orb and green-flame blade spells. Between the previous feedback and talking to the player about their intentions with the spell the focus has changed a bit. Instead of my interpretation of it being a melee-AOE spell (melee + cone effect or similar) he'd prefer if it was more of a smite with just a sprinkling of AOE damage instead of a secondary effect (bigger damage boost single target with just a little spread). So, here's the revised write up of the spell:

Current Draft

Chromatic Smite

2nd-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: Self
Components: V
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

When you cast this spell you choose acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or thunder and temporarily imbue your weapon with that element. The next time you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack during this spell’s duration, you release the element stored by the spell, and the attack deals an extra 3d8 of the chosen elemental damage to the target. Additionally, some of the elemental energy can strike one creature that you can see within 5-ft of the initial target. The second creature takes damage of the elemental type equal to your spellcasting ability modifier.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the melee attack's bonus elemental damage increases by 1d8 and the elemental burst can affect one additional adjacent creature for each slot level above 2nd.

Wording clarifications for reading purposes

The combined verbiage is a little awkward frankly. There are components from chromatic orb, green-flame blade, and the paladin smites (i.e. burning smite and branding smite specifically). There's a bit of a mismatch trying to add the elemental choice and the additional targets specifically. The intent is 1 melee target gets the bonus 3d8 chosen element damage and one additional adjacent target takes elemental damage equal to the caster's spellcasting modifier. Upcasting adds 1d8 to only the initial hit on the melee target and 1 additional adjacent target being affected by the extra burst damage (so L3 would be 4d8 bonus on hit, 2 adjacent targets taking spellcasting modifier damage, etc.)

Balance considerations

This is most directly comparable to blinding smite in that they both deal 3d8 bonus damage with some kind of secondary effect. The ability to pick the elemental damage dealt is already rather strong so I wanted to leave the AOE rather weak and thus made it more similar to green-flame blade's "one additional target" type verbiage instead of making it a cone effect like before. The ability to choose the element plus the bit of splash damage dealt is what I'm mainly trying to balance against the, sometimes rather powerful, secondary effects of the various smites. Back to the direct comparison of blinding smite, a creature that fails its constitution save is then blinded until the spell ends (a near universally powerful affliction unless the creature has tremor sense or blind sight).

The other main complication was what to do with the spell when being upcast. Green-flame blade being a cantrip only gains additional effects/damage every 4 levels or so but most spells allow for benefits on every or every other level. A single 1d8 bonus on the main hit seems fine but I didn't really want to add an additional 1d8 to the second target as then it would scale much, much faster than green-flame blade (granted that's comparison a 2nd level spell to a cantrip).

Example turn damage comparisons

Let's assume a 7th level Eldritch Knight (the character in question who proposed the spell) using a longsword + shield with +4 strength and +3 intelligence is considering their options to attack a melee target during a turn (each ignoring AC as they're all melee attacks and thus have the same chance to hit):

  • Casting chromatic smite as a bonus action, Green-flame blade as the action

    • Total Damage: 2d8 (2x longsword) + 8 (2x str mod) + 3d8 (elemental choice) + 1d8 (fire) on target with additional 1d8 (fire) + 6 (2x spellcaster mod bonus) on 2nd target for a total of 7d8+14 damage, averaging 46 damage depending on resistances.
    • Pros/Cons: 2nd level spell slot, 10 damage average requires a second adjacent target be present, can pick the type of half the damage applied, opportunity cost of maybe a second wind or similar
  • Casting chromatic smite as a bonus and two attacks as their action

    • Total Damage: 2d8 (2x longsword) + 8 (2x str mod) + 3d8 (chosen element) on target with 3 (spellcaster mod bonus) on a 2nd target for a total of 5d8+11 averaging 34 damage
    • Pros/Cons: 2nd level spell slot, 3 requires secondary adjacent target, can pick the type of more than half the damage, opportunity cost of bonus action
  • Green-flame blade as their action and using their War Magic feature for a melee attack as a bonus

    • Total Damage: 2d8 (2x longsword) + 8 (2x str mod) + 1d8 (fire) on target with bonus 1d8 (fire)+3 (spellcasting modifier) on secondary for total of 4d8+11 averaging 29 damage
    • Pros/Cons: no spell slots used, 7 damage requires adjacent secondary target, damage is all slashing or fire so more commonly resisted, opportunity cost of bonus action
  • Two attacks as their action and "something else" as their bonus

    • Total Damage: 2d8 (2x longsword) + 8 (2x str mod) for average of 17 slashing damage
    • Pros/Cons: no spell slots used, can do whatever you are able with bonus action, considerably less damage than previous options (really once you're at this level there's not a great reason to not use green flame blade each turn as long as you don't need your bonus for something else)

There's also potential to take some action on a turn and cast the smite as a bonus ahead of time if it can't be immediately used (no targets within movement, for instance). This is much more open ended though so very hard to consider and requires maintaining concentration on the spell until a melee strike is made (though an Eldritch Knight will be proficient with presumably a decent constitution modifier).

Did I miss any important situations in my generalizations above?

Alternatives/options speculated

  • See previous question linked initially in this one for most of the previous considerations
  • If the splash damage is too weak/doesn't scale well it could be increased. Making it scale every level seems like too much though and making it something like every X levels just adds complicated wordings into the spell somewhat needlessly
  • If the main spell damage is too much I could maybe drop the damage dice/number of dice. It seems on par to other smite spells best I can tell and might even be slightly underpowered depending on how much weight can be given to the ability to pick the damage type.
  • Could perhaps raise/lower the spell level if it seems too strong/weak. The intended target spell level was 2nd level, hence the immediate comparison to branding smite, and meant for an Eldritch Knight

Overall, how is this homebrew chromatic smite spell balanced? How could it be improved?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I realized from the first response that I accidentally compared the damage for an intended 2nd level spell to the 3rd level Blinding Smite instead of the 2nd level Branding Smite. I'd immediately bring the damage down to 2d8 base, maybe 2d6 to match Branding smite's base damage but I'm going to hold off editing the post itself for the first few days to comply with the request of the homebrew mods of waiting for more responses before editing a review request. \$\endgroup\$ – Redrascal May 12 at 7:22
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Mostly balanced as another Paladin smite spell with some considerations

Great job on the revision! I like the changes you've made and think it has been vastly improved.

The Good

Comparing this against a 3rd level smite spell like blinding smite is your best option, and you've done a good job here.

That does mean you need to bump this up to a 3rd level spell, which I think is reasonable.

The initial 3d8 damage is equivalent. The casting time is equivalent.

The difference is in trading the blinded condition for damage. For blinding smite, the target gets a save at the end of every turn, but being blinded is usually a pretty big deal. Trading that condition for a single one-off of splash damage I think is reasonable.

Paladins don't get a lot of things like that, so it does tip the scale in terms of "If I was a paladin, I'd want this always prepared", but it's also circumstantial in needing two enemies within 5' of each other.

The Bad

Upcasting.

Blinding smite doesn't have an upcast option. In fact, several of the paladin smite spells don't provide upcasting options. And when they do, the initial damage values are much less.

I don't think there should be an upcast option with this for additional effects.

The Ugly

No material component needed. This is trickier, because most smite spells don't use any other components than Verbal. But chromatic orb does require the single reusable 50gp gem. Including a material component here that isn't just the weapon (like green-flame blade has), makes this trickier with some paladin builds.

I'm not sure if there does need to be one or not, but it's worth considering. Given that many tables do handwave those things, it may not be an issue and you can leave it alone - it's just kinda an ugly thing to deal with.

Recap

If you are trying to make this equivalent to the third level blinding smite, please see the above. If you want to make this a 2nd level spell, I think going with 2d6 + CHA splash damage with 1d6 damage increase on upcasts per level.

Thoughts on using this spell outside of those who normally get Smite spells

Additionally, I had originally thought this to be an additional option for a paladin, and not for a fighter. The Wizard spell list doesn't contain any smite spells and the Eldritch Knight doesn't get any special carve-outs or access to them. I don't know what the design intent was behind not giving fighters access to smite spells, but there clearly was a decision here and I'm wary to allow this spell. The EK already gets access to Green-Flame Blade, but must make the decision on whether or not they wan tot use the auto-damage provided and use their action to Cast a Spell, or bypass the autodamage and attempt multiple attacks via the Attack action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thank for the reply. Intent was a second level spell so I agree on bringing it down to 2d8 or 2d6. 2d6 makes it only slightly better than green flame blade though for not using a spell slot. Bit underwhelming as then its only advantage is picking the type though that's a good ability. I also thought of adding a material component but what it would be is hard to say. ZFor my player in question they also have warcaster so it didn't functionally change it for them. \$\endgroup\$ – Redrascal May 12 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the damage specifically, I think I'd be inclined to leave it as 2d8. I'm aware that's more than Branding Smite's 2d6 but I'm trying to weigh how much benefit picking the element really is. In a meta game sense it's amazing but since it would cost a 2nd level spell slot, especially if I brought the damage down to 2d6 as then it's only +2 more damage than just using Green-Flame Blade, realistically the character would probably just use Green-Flame Blade unless the the fire damage was resisted, then could circumvent with Chromatic Smite. \$\endgroup\$ – Redrascal May 12 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Redrascal I'd still recommend 2d6. It fits with that level and it can scale reasonably. A paladin, or anything with more than one attack, still gets that. Casting green flame limits to just one action. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 12 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ specifically for my EK L7 player with War Magic he'd still get 2 melee attacks when casting green flame but certainly from a wholistic approach it's best to keep the damage in line with branding. Having it as a d6 die is easier on scaling as well then if I wanted to include it as it's less of a bump each upcast level. Feel like the main perk of this, assuming we keep the damage lower/inline with the rest, is circumventing resistances which still makes it a very useful spell even if it's not that much more damage for a 2nd level spell slot. \$\endgroup\$ – Redrascal May 13 at 2:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Redrascal How'd he still get two melee attacks? Or do you mean when you do your 1/SR action surge? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 13 at 3:01
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Unbalanced

I'm not going to give a full review of this spell, however some points immediately jump out:

  1. There are only 2 level 2 spells hitting for 3d8. Both of them are AoE, but they both require enemies to make a save.
  2. Both of the spells require an action to cast.
  3. Both of them have V, S, M requirements.
  4. Neither let you 'precharge' the spell by holding concentration.
  5. Neither of them let you choose the damage type.
  6. Neither let you keep trying until the enemy fail their save.

This leads to the following conclusion:

  • Damage is too high. Any time you start with the strongest spell of a level, and then improve it, that's a cause for concern.
  • This spell is damage that essentially skips the action economy for melee fighters.
  • It can be pre-cast, and still allow you to use your bonus action the turn you charge in.
  • The charge only activates on a hit, allowing you to keep retrying for free until it hits. If you miss with any other spell, it's gone!
  • As with all homebrew, there is inherent imbalance because you are adding utility for some classes but not others.

Usually, hybrid characters have to pick casting or attacking. This spell makes the choice a no brainer. The action economy problems need to be addressed. This spell lets you pre-cast, then enter combat and make a full attack action and bonus action without any drawbacks. What's more, you can cast it every round in combat and still make a full attack.

Even without elemental burst, this would be a powerful spell. I think you need to focus on what you are trying to do with this spell. It's two spells combined together and then amped up, it's a little confusing for me.

Advice

Respect the action economy. Make this spell a melee spell attack. If you want to hit multiple, make it an AoE spell, or reduce damage die. Taking Aganazzar’s Scorcher and adding the chromatic effect, reducing the die and changing to a spell attack might be a good place to start.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "The charge only activates on a hit, allowing you to keep retrying for free until it hits. If you miss with any other spell, it's gone!" That's not true - this spell is using the same mechanic as the other smite spells. \$\endgroup\$ – DM_with_secrets May 12 at 5:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ "What's more, you can cast it every round in combat and still make a full attack." The character using this will almost certainly not have enough spells slots for that. Usually smites are for paladins, but in this case it's an eldritch knight, who has even few spell slots. I suppose that technically this means it's on the wizard spell list, but if your wizard is in melee they probably need all the help they can get :P \$\endgroup\$ – DM_with_secrets May 12 at 5:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ (I'm not saying the damage is balanced, just that the mechanic has precedent) \$\endgroup\$ – DM_with_secrets May 12 at 6:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are three 2nd level spells that deal 3d8 damage: Aganazzar’s Scorcher, Shatter, and Mind spike. Targeted creatures take half damage on successful saves. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ May 12 at 7:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 your final summary hinges upon the action economy of this spell being broken, but does not address the fact that the querent seeks to craft a spell which is similar to the Paladin smite spell series; all of which rely upon Bonus Action castings. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical May 12 at 19:21

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