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One of my players is using a homebrew Witch class created by the podcast Worlds Beyond Number with my blessing. Essentially it's a Wisdom-based wizard who can heal and whose powers revolve around curses and imbuing items with their spells. They can create Talismans (indefinitely 'losing' a spell slot to create a magic item that allows anyone to cast one of their spells 1/day) and Tokens (items that allow anyone to cast one of their spells exactly once).

The wording of their 'Tokens' feature leaves it unclear whether a spell slot is expended if the artisan's tools check doesn't fail by 5 or more:

Any 1st-level witch spell that targets one or more creatures can be crafted into a token with 1 hour of labor. To craft it, you must have an unexpended spell slot of a high enough level to cast the spell (you need not have the spell prepared) and you must succeed on a Wisdom check using artisan's tools with a DC of 10 + the spell's level. On a failure, the item isn't created; if the check fails by 5 or more, you also expend a spell slot of the spell's level.

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You can attempt to make a single token during a short or long rest.

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You can maintain a number of active tokens equal to your proficiency bonus.

Does the text imply that a spell slot is expended upon successfully creating a token? That would make narrative sense but RAW, it sounds like it isn't.

This feature already allows Witches at any level to come into each day with 2-6 extra spell slots (the level of spell increasing at higher levels) compared to every other full-caster, but if a spell slot is not expended upon successfully creating a token and a token can be made each short rest, then doesn't that mean that Witch's spell slots are only limited by the number of short rests they can take? My player's +6 bonus in Wisdom (artisan's tools) makes it impossible for her to fail this check by 5 or more. As long as a Witch has at least one unexpended 1st-level spell slot, they could take 5 hours of short-resting to generate five extra spell slots with no drawbacks or risks. A 1st-level Witch could use this method to have 9+ spell slots per day.

Is my interpretation wrong? And if not, is this wildly unbalanced like the dreaded coffeelock?

For context, my player is very cooperative and would accept it if I nerfed her character - I just don't want to unnecessarily stomp on anyone's fun.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I posted an answer, and then realized that my answer was essentially saying "your question needs more detail", so I've voted to close. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Apr 3 at 19:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DanB While I see your answer does discuss the things you think the question needs, it’s probably for the best if those reasons are mentioned in a comment here. Particularly, what exactly do you want added here? A statement about the spell list being “normal” (or not)? The full spell list? The full spell list and class? At a certain point, I’d say the correct thing wouldn’t be to include any of that, but to indicate more precisely where this WBN class can be found and/or which one it is, and that the question just expects answerers to have expertise with that class rather than reproduce it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 3 at 20:00

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Of course, the only way to know for sure what the creator meant is to ask them, and you may have some luck getting an answer from them on Instagram or Twitter.

That said, it seems that it could have easily been made clear in the feature text by instead writing:

if the check fails by 5 or more or succeeds, you also expend a spell slot of the spell's level.

It seems straightforward to us looking at it after-the-fact that if they had intended to have a successful check expend the spell slot, they could have easily written that in the feature description. So it isn’t apparent from what is actually written that a spell slot is expended on a successful check. But again, we don’t actually know what they meant, and they are still around and active on social media, so you might try asking them.

Regarding the comparison to the Coffeelock, the primary gamebreaking feature of Coffeelock is that it allowed for arbitrarily large stockpiling of slots. There was no hard cap on how many slots the Coffeelock could build up. This class, however, is given a hard limit:

You can maintain a number of active tokens equal to your proficiency bonus.

Your extra slots are explicitly limited by your proficiency bonus. So while it’s a strong feature, it’s really nothing like the Coffeelock.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! I feel silly now - I was thinking that it COULD be arbitrarily large if those tokens were being used between short rests, but you're absolutely right that a Witch couldn't take back-to-back short rests to get more slots the way a coffeelock could. I suppose they could still spam Cure Wounds this way (using the tokens to heal between short rests) but especially as they go up in level the "free" ~17HP/SR just isn't that significant. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gabe
    Apr 3 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ This feature isn't that different from Wizard's Arcane Recovery. A 5th level Wizard gets 3 extra 1st level spell slots per day (or one each of 2nd level and 1st level) - and proficiency bonus at 5th level should be 3, if I remember right. \$\endgroup\$
    – codeMonkey
    Apr 4 at 14:06
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Given the rules we can see, probably yes

It's possible that one of the rules you didn't copy contains some text like "creating a Talisman or Token always expends a spell slot". Ideally, we'd want to compare the text for the Talisman feature to the text for the Token feature and see if some wording was deliberately changed between the two. Unfortunately the rules do not appear to be public, so given the information available it's hard to say more than "probably yes".

It does seem strange to me that the character would have these two very similar features, and one consumes spell slots and one doesn't.

It's hard to say if it's wildly unbalanced without more information

This does seem to be a class that has more spells available than conventional wizards. Is this balanced somehow, for example by having a worse selection of spells available? We'd really have to see the full class to be sure.

This seems likely to create tension around whether to rest

Although the coffeelock does have balance issues, another problem it has is that it causes contention about what the party should do. When exploring a dungeon, should the group check out the fungus pit on the left or search for goblins in the cavern beneath? The coffeelock's answer is: "Neither! Let's sit right here for five hours while I gather magical energy!" This might lead the other players to feel like their characters are sidelined because they spend all their time waiting for the coffeelock to be ready.

(Or, the group could decide that spending five hours resting isn't heroic, so they might just not do that, and then the coffeelock feels like their character is mechanically disadvantaged.)

It seems likely that your witch class will have this issue, even if it's not strictly imbalanced.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You have a good point about the witch pushing for more rests, but the comparison to the coffeelock is inapt—that build would instead refuse to rest, hence “coffee.” \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 3 at 19:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see your point - while Thomas Markov has made it clear that back-to-back rests aren't really helpful, it's very likely that one or both tokens will get used in most encounters (if only to heal) which gives the Witch incentive to SR between every encounter even if no one got hurt or used /SR features. However, this is still less incentive than every Warlock has to SR between encounters (and the party does already have a Warlock) so I think from that perspective it should be fine. I was mostly worried about "cheesing" and that appears to not be a problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gabe
    Apr 3 at 20:19

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