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I am making a Divination Wizard, and looking to try and create a combat useful Divination spell for each level. Envision is my attempt at a level 3 spell.

ENVISION

3rd-level Divination
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30ft
Components: V, S, M (non-costed, non-consumed components which have yet to be determined
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

Choose a willing creature that you can see within range. Until the spell ends the target gains the ability to see events just before they happen. It gains a +2 bonus to AC, has advantage on saving throws vs effects it can see, and gains advantage on all attack rolls.

When the spell ends, the disorientation of losing the visions causes the target to suffer a -2 penalty to AC, have disadvantage on saving throws vs effects it can see, and gain disadvantage on attack rolls until the end of its next turn.

As you can probably see I have tried to balance it around haste.

The questions I foresee are the unusual wording around 'effects they can see' and to head that off I mean any effect that has a visible effect of any sort, regardless of save. EG: Fireball, grease, cloudkill. The intention is that if they have the potential to see something coming they can just not be there anymore. I have a DM who can happily work with this kind of language, and we both understand that many spells don't have visible effects (Hold person etc).

As for my own balance calculations I think this is slightly more powerful than haste in terms of damage output (although less so on a rogue), less useful in terms of utility, and has a pretty balanced downside. Overall I think it is balanced but want to ensure I haven't missed any possible interactions with other spells or features that may change that balance.

My general consideration for balance is "Would I always cast it" and the answer is no, especially when Slow is still a 3rd level spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would replacing "effects it can see" with "perceivable effects" be more in line with your intentions? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Jun 24 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @molot perceivable could include touch or smell so probably not, it is just sight I am thinking about. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jun 24 at 18:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Then what about blind creatures with blindsight? And other sight replacements? Excluded on purpose? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Jun 24 at 18:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ "not something that will come up" - Said SeriousBri, one session before his DM makes his character blind and he needs to learn blindsight in order to survive. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 24 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ In addition to the excellent answers already provided, when you go to tweak this one, I'm thinking that Greater Invisibility would be a useful spell to compare to. It's the previously existing Concentration-to-1-minute spell that gives advantage on (almost) all attacks, but it's 4th level. Whatever you come up with for a 3rd level spell to be clearly and significantly weaker than Greater Invisibility. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jun 24 at 20:25
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TL;DR I think this spell is mostly alright as is

A comparison to foresight

The foresight spell is a 9th level spell touch-range spell that lasts for 8 hours, takes 1 minute to cast, and does not require concentration; it states:

You touch a willing creature and bestow a limited ability to see into the immediate future. For the duration, the target can't be surprised and has advantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. Additionally, other creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls against the target for the duration.

Your spell is similar to this in its effects (except the +2 AC) but has a much shorter duration, can be cast mid-combat, requires concentration, and has significant downsides when it ends. Overall, I think these do help to balance out the spell (though comparing such drastically different levels of spells is difficult) but we can definitely conclude that your spell is far weaker than foresight which is a great start.


A comparison to Reckless Attack

The Barbarian gets a feature gives them advantage on attack roll but also gives other advantage on attack rolls against the Barbarian.

Your spell though causes the target to have disadvantage on attack rolls and I think a problem with this is that they can choose simply not to attack and go do something else. I think switching this around to be similar to Reckless Attack would be a good move.


A comparison to haste

The haste spell is a 3rd level 30-foot range spell that lasts for 1 minute, takes an action to cast, and requires concentration; it states:

Choose a willing creature that you can see within range. Until the spell ends, the target's speed is doubled, it gains a +2 bonus to AC, it has advantage on Dexterity saving throws, and it gains an additional action on each of its turns. That action can be used only to take the Attack (one weapon attack only), Dash, Disengage, Hide, or Use an Object action.

When the spell ends, the target can't move or take actions until after its next turn, as a wave of lethargy sweeps over it.

Your spell is similar to this in its non-effects (except the +2 AC) so let's compare those. If your spell were equal to haste in power then advantage on a single type of saving throw and getting a limited additional action would have to be equal to getting advantage on most saving throws (what's visible is up to the GM) and advantage on all attack rolls.

I don't believe this is the case though, in other words, your spell is somewhat (perhaps only slightly) overpowered.

The saving throw benefits are quite a significant jump in power, making it a great deal stronger than haste in that regard, but comparing the advantage on attacks with getting an additional action is complicated:

A Fighter would prefer 2 attacks made with advantage over 3 attacks made without if they have about a 50% chance of hitting (this difference gets worse - your spell gets more better than haste - as the Fighter gets more attacks).

A Warlock cannot do much with haste cast on them, but with your spell they get advantage on the attack rolls of eldritch blast; a much better trade for them.

It's hard to compare a "free" Disengage action or Hide action to flat advantage on attacks, but when talking about those who make more than one attack with their action, your spell likely benefits them more than haste does.

It's not a great deal of difference and comparing these spells isn't easy (playtesting is likely a great thing to try out) but I think the biggest flaw is the lethargy effect of your spell.


The lethargy effect can be abused

Let's assume that the lethargy effect even comes up in the midst of a combat (most battles I've seen with haste have had the combat end before the spell ends, but perhaps that's from the monsters not focusing entirely on the caster of haste):

With haste, suffering from the lethargy means you can't do basically anything; you just sit there for an entire turn and can't escape, leave, vanish, or anything similar.

With your spell, the lethargy does not actually stop you. You can teleport away, sprint away, or do just something besides attack. The only thing you have to look out for is the disadvantage on saving throws, which might not even come up.

Another problem is that if somebody were under the lethargy effects and really wanted to get out of them, you could just cast the spell on them again. All the effects would cancel each other out for that one turn and then the target would get nine turns of fully benefiting from the spell.


Summary/Conclusion/TL;DR

Overall, I think this spell is somewhat better than haste because it is useful to more people, grants stronger saving throw advantages, and the lethargy effect is actually less detrimental. That said, comparing a "free" action with advantage on attacks is difficult and if the lethargy granted attackers advantage like Reckless Attack does, I think this spell would be similar enough in power to haste where playtesting would be a great idea.

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    \$\begingroup\$ With regards to your comment about universal saving throw advantage, thematically speaking it would probably make more sense if the spell only worked on Dexterity saving throws (perhaps granting the effects of Evasion), as I don't see how knowledge of the future would give you any advantage to wisdom, intelligence, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrendire Jun 24 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Andrendire on the other hand, spells that require a wisdom/int saving throw are not exactly spells you can see either, so... I am actually curious on examples of spells that seeing would help but are not Dexterity saving throw based. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 24 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, OP gave the example of Cloudkill. Yeah... I'm not sure seeing the future helps here - the save is for "the poison is killing me, body, resist the poison!". If he could see the future, I would still say it's a dex ST to get out of the area before the poison gets to him, rather than advantage on the con. Seeing the future also doesn't help if he is willingly entering such a poisonous area, so I don't see why he should have advantage in that case. But that's outside the scope, I guess. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 24 at 20:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I basically agree with all of this, but think the significant increase in flexibility (useful on more targets in more situations) in addition to the moderate power increase push it into unbalanced territory for me. Increased flexibility is significant because if one spell can do the job of 2 others, then you've just opened up a new spell selection for free. That said, I'm not sure if this spell would be balanced or underpowered as a 4th level spell. Perhaps there is some comparable 4th level spell to benchmark it against? \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Jun 24 at 23:41
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The Spell itself is fine as is, but...

Do you really want to buff Divination Wizards? Is the question you should be making. Portent is already the best 2nd level feature for Wizards, and the reason that this school is not always picked, from my understanding, is that Expert Divination is not incredible due to most divination spells being not great. If you give a really solid choice for divination spells at each level, then Expert Divination becomes amazing and I would pick Divination over any other school any time (I already do, but hey).

Now, consider your statement

My general consideration for balance is "Would I always cast it" and the answer is no, especially when Slow is still a 3rd level spell.

I would change that to: "Would I always pick School of Divination if this spell existed?", and as I said, the answer for me is yes, at least from an optimization point of view (obviously if I really wanted to play a Blaster Wizard I would still go with Evocation, for example).

About the spell itself

Medix2's answer is already great, and your comparison with haste is fair, as I see it. One thing that is concerning to me is that it is too similar to Haste, at the same time being noticeably better than haste. Again, let me change the question you are making in order to tell whether it is balanced or not:

Would I always cast it over haste, being a Divination Wizard?

and again, for me, the answer is almost surely. Other than in very specific cases where the speed bonus matters, or casting it in a Rogue, I would pretty much cast this over haste. The reason it still seems balanced is that Haste is not a great spell for wizards (it is insane for Sorcerers, though), and you would usually be casting Slow, as you said, or Hypnotic Pattern, or other spells.

This means your spell is essentially overshadowing Haste as a whole, which is, again, a problem in my opinion.

On the Lethargy effect

As Medix mentioned, the Lethargy is actually not as bad as Haste's. Haste's lethargy effect makes you useless for a turn - and even if you cast Haste on that person again, that does nothing. The drawback from your spell can be offset by... casting it again. The lethargy should be way worse - for example, consider making the target Blind.

Personally, I would make the target blind for the same number of turns it had the positive effect ongoing. The reason I would make it last longer than one turn is simple: the positive effects are already better than Haste for most scenarios for most classes, the negative effect (being blind) is arguably less punitive than losing your entire turn (although you could argue being more vulnerable due to being attacked with advantage is worse), so at least the duration should be more punitive.

Conclusion

So, my problem with this spell is that, from the way I see it, you are basically giving haste to the Divination school. Even if the power level of the effects are the same, the fact that it has the Divination tag makes it considerably stronger, and makes the (arguably) best subclass of Wizard (at least top 3 easily) even stronger.

As someone who essentially only plays Wizards and has Divination as his favorite school, I would not want this spell in my game for the reasons mentioned. But if your DM and the other players in your party are fine with it, move on to playtest it.

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