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I have an idea for a vampire-based Sorcerer that uses Constitution instead of Charisma for spellcasting. I know this would be very powerful, as Constitution is also used for Hit Points. However, since Sorcerers have such a small hit die, I figured allowing them to invest more heavily in Constitution would not be too broken.

Would this be broken in some way I have not considered? Just how powerful would this be, mechanically? How does it compare in power to other level 1 Sorcerous Origin abilities?

There is precedent, sort of, as the Dragonborn's spell-like breath weapon uses Constitution to determine the DC.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by break the game? A con sorcerer would probably be more tanky than a cha sorcerer, but I'm not sure what constitutes breaking the game 🤔 \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18 at 0:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TelekeneticBarbarian given that no official class or subclass uses Constitution as a spellcasting modifier (or any physical stat for that matter), I am simply wondering if there are reasons beyond what I have noticed, as it is a cool idea. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ that may be difficult to answer. It's certainly possible to balance a con caster. Are there other reasons why the designers didn't do it? No idea about that. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18 at 3:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame Is this imagined as part of a Sorcerous Origin? The current answers seem very good for the question as asked, but I feel as though asking, and answering, in a vacuum is much less useful than it might be—the real interesting thing is where this lands with respect to other Origins. If a Sorcerous Origin got Con-based spellcasting and that was it, and even just that was more powerful than the other Origins, that might be considered “breaking.” But failing that, asking after some sense of where things lie with respect to those would be very valuable information. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 18 at 3:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame I think you should edit your question to make that clearer, and possibly to note that comparison with other Origins would be appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 18 at 4:07
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It makes the standard attribute array a little better, deciding ASIs a little easier, and might get you an extra feat you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

I’ve though about this a lot, and the only interesting difference I’ve come up with is that it takes some of the pressure off of deciding where to put your attribute scores.

For a typical spell caster, you have three important stats:

  • Constitution, which affects your hit points total, CON saves are very common, including saves against negative effects and most importantly, concentration saves.

  • Dexterity, which affects your armor class, and DEX saves are very common

  • Your spellcasting ability, which determines your spell save DC and spell attack modifier.

If we roll the first and third bullet points here into one, now we only have to worry about two of our attributes instead of three.

So instead of those three bullets getting (15,14,13) from the standard array, they now get (15,15,14) or (15,14,14) since constitution and Spellcasting ability get rolled together. So this is a little bit better at character creation than a typical spellcaster, at least in terms of strategically distributing your stats.

This pays off further as we level up. Once again, instead of having to decide what to do with three important stats, you’re only worried about two. And as you progress further, and you’ve got your two stats where you want them, you may be able to squeeze an extra feat out of one of your ASIs, since you aren’t worried about three different stats.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It’s worth mentioning that many of the official Sorcerous Origins are quite strong, so this advantage has room to fit in and then some for additional features. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 18 at 2:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your reasoning is not limited to character creation and ASI's. With a three-item limit on attunement, such a caster would be able to make a Con-boost magic item serve double-duty rather than facing a tradeoff between an item that increased hp and saves vs. an item that boosted spellcasting ability, at least when given the choice. Not every campaign allows PCs to choose between magic items, but it would be a further consideration in one that did. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 18 at 2:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Put another way, any caster benefits from an item that boosts spellcasting ability, but a Con-based caster benefits more. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 18 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @kirt are you sure boosting con with items is such a benefit considering dropping cha loses access to almost an entire pillar of the game? Combat isn't the only important thing, and stat boosting items break the game anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 18 at 8:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri If the sorcerer in question was the party's only face, then yeah, not investing in Cha could have serious drawbacks - but by that point there are really too many variables to consider. If we are talking about a vampire PC with unlimited access to charm, it is likely a different playstyle than I am familiar with. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 18 at 14:47
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It would help some casters more than others

In addition to the stat-planning considerations Thomas Markov lists, and with which I whole-heartedly agree, there is another consideration. As a player and DM who came late to 5e from BECMI/1e/2e, one of the most striking limits on spell duration in 5e is the Concentration mechanic and the need to make Concentration saves to maintain spells.

A Con-based caster who was able to maximize their Con score (at creation, and later through ASIs and magic items) would not only become a better caster, but would benefit as well by being more likely to maintain Concentration on their spells. For a damage caster (like an evoker who favored instantaneous effects) this would not matter much, but for a caster who specialized in Control-based battlefield effects this could be important.

Since the Sorcerer class receives proficiency in Con saving throws, a Con-maxed sorcerer would quickly reach a point where it was very unlikely to fail a Concentration check.

Would this be game-breaking? No, since the War Caster feat effectively provides a similar benefit. While not game-breaking, it would be very effective for certain builds of casters.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Dwarven casters are already highly unlikely to fail a concentration saving throw. I run a game with a dwarven artificer and a dwarven cleric. The benefit of this is not even as strong as that dwarven racial. Although, it does stack with the racial... \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that there are several damage-based spells that require concentration. It's not only control-based spells that require concentration. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Nov 23 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewADeMarco: What dwarven racial feature are you referring to? They get a Con boost, but most Con-based casters would go for a race with a Con bonus anyway. Are you just referring to the free armor proficiency for Mountain Dwarves (which reduces the chance of being hit and needing make a Concentration check in the first place)? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23 at 1:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Indeed, which is why the example I gave was of a damage caster who was using instantaneous spells. Similarly, there are control spells like Grease that persist a full minute but are not Concentration. As a general rule, though, a control caster will be using more Concentration spells then a damage caster. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 23 at 7:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ nevermind, here I was thinking they got advantage, its just advantage on poison. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25 at 2:24

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