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My DM is preparing more of a fairytale-themed campaign with younger adventurers. I want to make a character that consumes their bracelets to cast all their spells. The problem is that I couldn't find a class that only uses items for their magic other than Artificer; that is more science/armor/machinery oriented.

We homebrew a lot and don't go to the rules much, so I only need a brief recommendation of a (sub)class or its modification so I can make balanced spellcasting that fits this theme.

More details of this character concept

The bracelets would be destroyed after use, and the power and type of the spells would differ depending on the material and technique used to make them, they could cast attacks, buff allies if they are wearing it or numb enemies if you manage to get it on them etc.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does UMD count? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Dec 31, 2022 at 0:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the character supposed to be able to form new bracelets after a long rest, so they can work somewhat like spell slots? Or is that a downtime activity, so they need to budget their casting for the rest of the adventure, not just the day? (That sounds like a poor fit for younger players who might be tempted to blow everything in an early battle instead of running away or taking some damage. Or overpowered if you do manage to hoard your magic and then use a lot in one really important day. Being balanced very differently than any other 5e caster could make things weird, regardless of "OP") \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2022 at 7:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I will remove the "thank you" bit from your question as it is not relevant to your question. Your acceptance of the answer already shows that you found it most helpful, we also don't indicate edits :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jan 1, 2023 at 12:57

2 Answers 2

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Flavor can be changed without altering the mechanics

There are no (sub)classes that have to cast through items, but how you flavor your spellcasting is up to you.

Spellcasting works by expending spell slots that return after either a short rest or a long rest depending on the class in question. It is easy enough to visualize your available spell slots as bracelets. Mechanically you would still have spell slots but they are represented as bracelets for flavor. They can magically replenish after a rest or you could roleplay crafting them, for prepared spellcasters who prepare their list of available spells each morning this works great too.

Alternatively, or additionally, spellcasting classes have the option to use magical focuses or component pouches to substitute a spell's material component. What form these items take doesn't really matter so they could be bracelets.

You did mention something that would not really work using this approach:

The bracelets would be destroyed after use, the power and type of the spells would differ depending on the material and technique used to make them

This suggests you would have to prepare each individual spell beforehand, with the spell being used up unless prepared multiple times. Spellcasting in 5th edition does not exactly function this way, but unless you really want this mechanic it is easy enough to say you have the appropriate bracelet for a prepared spell when you want to cast it instead of having to plan ahead for each spell you think you will cast that day (which would be very limiting compared to other spellcasters). You can still describe each bracelet as you cast the spell, giving you all the flavor you seem to be looking for, but you won't get the exact mechanics as you described.

If you do want the exact mechanics, you would indeed have to homebrew an entire class. You could start by looking into the Vancian Magic system that was used in earlier editions of DnD, where each spell had to be prepared individually and would be used up once cast unless prepared again. Keep in mind this system is much less flexible so it's advised to compensate for this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ the power and type of the spells would differ depending on the material and technique used to make them - This narrative doesn't fit with 5e mechanics, where a slot doesn't have a type of magic, it can be used for anything, chosen at cast time. It's closer to Vancian spell-prep like 3.5e and earlier where you have to choose how many copies of Fireball you prepare, and can only cast that many for the day. Except maybe they picture it as a "healing" slot that can be used for any healing spell, or an "evocation" slot. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2022 at 6:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could at least have the level of the spell be determined by the level of the bracelet. That's just the regular way spell slots work for most classes (I have three 1st-level slots = I can cast three 1st-level spells). I suppose you could go further and give each bracelet a school or something, but at that point, you're getting into overt homebrew and it's harder to say how balanced that would be (probably underpowered?). \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin
    Jan 1, 2023 at 18:31
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Artificer comes closest. Many players like to flavor their artificers in a technomagic fashion, but that's not necessarily essential to the core concept.

You use your tools as a focus for spellcasting and the entire spellcasting process is tool-flavored. That could be an artillerist artificer who paints his spells into existence.

A bracelet artificer could be using Jeweler's Tools and bracelets are how his preparation mechanics work.

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