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I will soon be playing a wizard who I intend to become a transmutation wizard. However, I find the transmutation wizard sorely lacking in power. To remedy this, I have begun creating a revision. The first step in this revision is to replace the features granted at level 2 with the following:

Transmutation Savant, which still works as normal.

Minor Alchemy

Starting at 2nd level when you select this school, you can temporarily alter the physical properties of one nonmagical object or part of it, changing it from one substance into another. You may use your action to perform a special alchemical procedure on one medium or smaller object (you may also use this on a single medium or smaller portion of an object) you can see within 30 feet composed entirely of wood, stone (but not a gemstone), iron, copper, or silver, transforming it into a different one of those materials. If the object is being worn or carried, the creature wearing or carrying the object must be willing. This transformation lasts for one hour unless you use your action to end it. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Intelligence bonus (minimum 1), and you regain your expended uses when you complete a long rest.

Additionally, you gain proficiency with alchemist’s supplies. If you already have this proficiency, you gain proficiency with one other type of artisan’s tools of your choice.

Additionally, the Purify Food and Drink spell is a wizard spell for you, though you cannot use it as a ritual nor store it in your spellbook. Instead, you always have it prepared, and it does not take up a known spell.

Mending Touch

As an action, you may touch a creature or object to restore 1d6 hit points to it per level of the highest level spell slot you have. Once you use this feature, you may not do so again until you complete a long rest.

Much of the minor alchemy feature is copied from here. I found conflicting answers over whether that was balanced, but sided with those saying no. It seems to me that the main potential issues are underpoweredness, overpoweredness from the range of Minor Alchemy's main feature, and overpoweredness/stepping on toes from Purify Food and Drink. Is this alternate feature balanced?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting that having purify food and drink as a non-ritual that can't even be in your spellbook (what happens if you get the spell elsewhere? Can you never record it in a spellbook?) is woeful. Ritual spells are rituals for a reason. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Sep 21, 2023 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour and maybe visit the help center for some guidance in posting Q&A here, and eventually visit this FAQ for homebrew questions. Happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Sep 22, 2023 at 7:07

2 Answers 2

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This can be exploited and has too many features

Because you state that your explicit intent is to make this subclass stronger, the benchmark for balanced you are looking for is: is this balanced compared to other subclass options for wizards, or broken in some other way?

Overall, it feels as if this is too much. All wizard schools get the savant feature on level 2 and one other feature. You not only provide two substantial features on level 2; one of them is also abusable, and in turn bundles three different valuable abilities, that are largely unrelated.

Minor Alchemy

The major changes to the transmutation effect of Minor Alchemy you have are:

  • It only takes one action to cast instead of 10 minutes (but does not work on an item worn or carried by an unwilling creature)
  • It can transmute an object as large as medium sized instead of a cubic foot
  • It loses the concentration constraint, meaning you can spam this

I think this is abusable as written. While the rider that it cannot target a worn or carried object curbs the worst abuse in combat (like turning swords into wooden swords), here is one I can think of on top of my head:

Get a stack of large iron ingots, and turn them into silver. Each sp worth of iron is now worth 5 gp. You can easily create silver worth hundreds of gp on level 2. You then can use these (as they are trade goods) to shop for costly spell components or buy your fighter a full plate armor. Make sure you leave the area before the hour is up, of course. This entirely breaks the economics of tier one for unscrupulous characters.

Or, as suggested by Mołot and Peter Cordes, quickly turn locks or iron bars into wood for breaking them. Turn doors into steel doors to cover your escape. Turn a light block of wood into a crushing iron block of falling death in combat. There are probably many more ways.

In addition, you get a free tool proficiency, and a free spell known and prepared that normally would not be accessible.

Mending touch

Mending touch will heal 1d6 hp even initally as a free add on. That is about half a cure wounds spell, and characters at that level have only 3 spells per level, so that is (in addition to allow healing for a wizard) all by itself equivalent to an increase of 17% in spellcasting capacity.

If I were your DM, I would not agree to this. I'd at least ask you to require concentration for minor alchemy (and even then you can create a large block of silver from iron), and probably ask you to decide on one feature only.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for abuse. All iron padlocks are now clay? Or brittle driftwood? Oh noes! \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Sep 21, 2023 at 10:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Spamming minor alchemy is limited to int-mod uses per long rest. So you need to transmute a few big bars of something, not many ingots. You can still have multiple transmutations active at once, unlike the PHB version where it's concentration, and making it an action that affects a Medium object still makes it (ab)usable for locks or safes when you don't have 10 minutes during an infiltration or escape, and maybe halfling-sized doors or the bars of a cell. So that change alone would be enough of a buff even with the /long rest use limit, without all this extra stuff! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2023 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ When I have a new version of this and I want to get feedback on it, what do I do? Asking because I'm new here. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2023 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Disdyakistriacontahedron See this FAQ \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2023 at 4:01
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Beware of classes' themes.

Beside the excellent points raised in this answer, there is one more issue, related to the class theme.

Both features grant options that are thematically linked to cleric and divine casters, namely Purify Food and Drink and restoring Hit Points.

In the first case, adding just one spell to the wizard list could be not so harmful, but in this case the connection with the Trasmutation wizard theme is fleeble . From subclass description:

You are a student of spells that modify energy and matter. To you, the world is not a fixed thing, but eminently mutable, and you delight in being an agent of change. You wield the raw stuff of creation and learn to alter both physical forms and mental qualities. Your magic gives you the tools to become a smith on reality’s forge.

It is true that this spell is about modifying the properties of food and drinks in some way, but its flavour is mainly about divine magic, a magical effect that cleans from impurity. Note that this spell is on the Artificer list, but the latter has a complete different flavour.

But the major problem is about Mending Touch: per description (emphasis mine)

you may touch a creature or object to restore 1d6 hit points to it per level of the highest level spell slot you have.

This feature allows to cure another creature, which is something that falls (again) in the cleric/divine theme. We have also indications in the rules that wizards should not have access to healing spells: in the DMG, page 283, under the "Creating a Spell" section one can read

Make sure the spell fits with the identity of the class. Wizards and sorcerers don't typically have access to healing spells, for example, and adding a healing spell to the wizard class list would step on the cleric's turf.

There are some wizard subclasses that allow a sort of healing (namely, the Necromancer's Grim Harvest) or even some spells (e.g. Life Transference), but these usually have some other requirement for the healing taking effect (killing a creature for the necromancer, suffering from 4d8 necrotic damage for the spell).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this really a huge deal? The subclasses have pretty much run roughshod over each other with each new book. I generally agree with it, but it doesn't seem like WoTC does. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 22, 2023 at 12:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NotArch To me, yes. Granting healing spells to wizards or cleric themed spells to a subclass that have little in common with a divine background (as it could be for the Divine Soul sorcerer) ruins the class flavor, being furthermore against the DMG indications. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Sep 22, 2023 at 12:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I hear you. Just may be difficult for others when WoTC doesn't seem to have an issue with it :) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 22, 2023 at 12:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NotArch Well, there are some edges cases in which I can understand this mixing (e.g. the artificer) or some classes that are flavored in a suitable way (Divine Soul sorcerer). But in this case I feel that a trasmutation wizard with healing feature is feeling a little bit out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Sep 22, 2023 at 12:23

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