2
\$\begingroup\$

I am currently homebrewing alternative types of casters for D&D 5e, and mostly looking at making them unique through new ways of casting spells. My main objective is to keep them in line with the current casters and their strong points, without making the original ones irrelevant or underpowered in comparison (this is what I define as "balanced" in the context of this question).

I've refined one of those ways of casting, and am now under the process of balancing it. However, I am aware that spells and spellcasting in general can easily be abused or broken, and thus I am looking for feedback on the following ability.

For the context of the ability itself, it will either be the core feature of a new wizard-like full caster, or an ability directly granted to a wizard, either as a feature or a magic item. As such, you may evaluate this with a wizard's spell list, although if there are interesting things to point out with spells not in this spell list, I'd be glad to hear about them, in case I ever allow multiclassing.

Here is my current take on the ability which I've currently named Spell Melding (still haven't found a name I'm satisfied with, but that can wait) :

Spell Melding. Experimentation around spell-storing magic has given you the ability to hold a spell's harming potential, and inject it back into another spell later on.

When you cast a spell that inflicts damage, you can instead choose to store the spell's damaging aspect. You can only store one damaging aspect in this way, and storing another damaging aspect erases the currently stored aspect. Any component and spell slot used during the casting is consumed as usual, and the spell is considered as cast successfully.

When storing a damaging aspect, roll the damage of the spell as if you cast it normally. The damaging aspect retains the spell's final damage values after applying modifiers (outside of target-related modifiers such as weakness and resistance) and its damage types.

When you deal damage with a spell, you may inject your currently stored damaging aspect into the damage-dealing spell. The damage of the stored aspect is added to the current spell's total damage, and retains its original damage types. The stored aspect is consumed in the process.

A stored aspect cannot be used on the same round it was stored. Additionally, a stored aspect vanishes after being stored for 1 minute.

The description is quite long, as I tried to limit any unintended interaction that could break everything. The basic idea behind this feature is to give the ability to "hold" onto the damage of a spell, then release it alongside another spell later in the combat, allowing to deal large amounts of damage in a single attack.

The main goal of this ability is to give an alternative, more risky way to use spells, but with much larger bursts of damage. It makes you use your action on a turn to technically do "nothing", but allows a much larger damage output on your next turn, which depends on the resources you've spent during your previous turn.

Here are the main concerns I currently have about this feature :

  • Combat can be fairly short, no more than a few rounds, so this feature may be too slow to be fully taken advantage of.
  • There may be ways to abuse how this feature is written in order to deal damage much higher than intended.

In the situation where this feature would be slightly unbalanced, but not to the point of having to totally reworking it, I have the following solutions :

  • If too weak, instead of entirely consuming the stored damaging aspect, only half of it could be consumed, while keeping the full damage bonus applied. This would result in getting 1.5 times your original stored aspect's value, over the course of 3 spell castings.
  • If too strong, injecting the stored aspect into a spell may require a bonus action, instead of being free in the action economy.

Is this ability balanced for a wizard-like full caster, when compared to the current full casters?

\$\endgroup\$
5
  • \$\begingroup\$ What level do they get it, and what class or sub-class feature would it replace? If you are just adding this on it is broken. If it replaces Arcane Recovery it is more balanced than if it replaces Evocation Savant. And either way, it should probably have a time limit and a usage limit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Xavon_Wrentaile the intent is not to make a limited, straight up always stronger ability which you can only use a certain amount of time, but rather to give another option for casting spells, more risky to use since it's slower, but which can grant better results if used properly. That's why I did not limit the amount of times you can use it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 6:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Xavon_Wrentaile I haven't thought about a specific wizard feature to replace with this, since it's intended to be the main feature of an entirely separate class. The main idea behind my question is less "would wizard be OP with this?" and more "does a full caster, similar to wizard, with this feature invalidate other casters ?". \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 6:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you have a spell like Thunderwave that deals damage and also produces another effect, is the intent that any non-damage effects of the spell should occur as normal when the spell is cast, while the spell's damage is stored? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 13:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanC.Thompson no. The intent is that the spell is "considered as cast successfully" for features and such that trigger on this condition, spell slot and other components are consumed accordingly, but the spell does not take effect. You can compare it to what would happen when you cast a spell to be stored in a Ring of Spell Storing. Reading through it again it does seem ambiguous, thanks for pointing that out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 13:41

2 Answers 2

7
\$\begingroup\$

As per your comment, I'm going to consider only single target spell damage stored, and applying it to single target only too.

It skips saves and defenses

If you have a high damage spell, you just store the damage before battle. Then, on the first round, you cast a magic missile. No save, and you have three targets so there's a high probability that one or two will not cast Shield. And now you can apply your high damage from your highest level spell without giving the target opportunity for a save, or benefit of Armor Class.

Even if you won't combine it with Magic Missile, you only decide to apply the damage when the spell you are using actually deals the damage, so only after target already failed their saving throw. And you apply it in full even if the spell was about to apply only half of the damage, because it deals half on successful save.

It doubles your first round effectiveness

You have the damage output of two actions at the cost of one. At least, because there are 4 damaging spells with casting time longer than 1 action. For this alone, it would be on par with other abilities that allows classes to get extra action, but probably more powerful than what, for example, Fighter can do with his Action Surge. And Fighter only has it 1/long rest until 17th level. Your feature has no such limit.

It effectively removes one of the spellcasting limits

PHB p.203:

Bonus Action A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

With your feature, you can cause damage of two spells using a bonus action (there are a lot of spells to do that) and still have your main action available for anything you want, for example a cantrip. Nothing, even Sorcerer's Quickened Spell, allows you to cram that many spells in one turn, so the assumption that it was intentional seems warranted.


I would probably not allow it at my table as is for now. For every one of these issues, I would be open to playtesting it, but all three seem a bit much to me.

\$\endgroup\$
5
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback, those are definitely points I'll have to address. I did not think about the ">1 action" spells, so I'll definitely limit this to 1-action-cost spells. Doubling the first turn effectiveness is an interaction I did not expect, an easy fix would be for this ability to be usable only during combat. The removal of the spellcasting limit is intended, especially since any side effect of the first damaging spell is lost (only the damage remains). I'll have to think about a way to deal with skipping saves and defenses. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu I imagine this feature to be used to store spells that only/mainly deal damage. That's not even a character optimisation, just basics of not being wasteful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm actually working on other features to store other "components" besides damage, and have a full-on class working around choosing what part of a spell to store, but that's a homebrew for another day. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 21:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu How do you intend to define "during combat"? 5e mostly doesn't distinguish mechanically between combat and non-combat situations, but rather in vs. out of initiative. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanC.Thompson this is an issue I have yet to find a solution to. Using "in initiative" seems like a mere bandaid, and it doesn't explain why you couldn't use it out of combat, outside of for balance's sake, so I'd rather keep it as a last resort. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 10:57
4
\$\begingroup\$

It has some weird interactions with area of effects

Mainly the same effect either way; first cast something such as "Meteor swarm" at your party before combat starts, what would the effect of storing this be, does it store one hit or all the damage? All would one shot almost anything, but it isn't unreasonable to read it like that currently. The same question is also in reverse, what happens if I use this charge on a spell like upcasted Magic Missiles to hit 8 enemies with a damaging spell meant for a single target?

Along with this, on the topic of Magic Missiles or spells that only damage enemies such as Wither and Bloom, it can be used as a discount version of the evocation wizards spell sculpting of; use big spell that would wipe out your melee party > put that damage onto a spell that only hits enemies.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ For the first question, the intent is to store the theorical damage on a single target. I'll have to clarify this in my next iteration. I have thought about area of effect spells, or multihit spells, and the intent was to only add the stored damage to the total damage dealt to a single target (dealing the increased damage to all targets of a zone attack seems much too abusable at first glance). Another thing I'll have to clarify, thanks for the useful feedback! \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 10:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .