Is there any info on why NRD was removed from Wild Sorcerers (compared to previous editions, since NRD was one of the reasons the class was well-liked)?
Nahal's Reckless Dweomer has been directly incorporated into the Sorcerer's class features.
Starting in 3.5E, the spell was converted into the "Reckless Dweomer" class feature for the Wild Mage prestige class:
Complete Arcane, Page 68
Reckless Dweomer (Su): At 9th level and higher, a wild mage knows how to spontaneously convert her own spell energy into random, unpredictable results. As a standard action, she can eliminate a prepared spell or spell slot of at least 1st level to create an effect similar to that of activating a rod of wonder. The character's student of chaos ability (see above) applies when she uses her reckless dweomer ability. See page 237 of the Dungeon Master's Guide for details on the rod of wonder.
5th Edition goes a step further and makes all of a Wild Magic Sorcerer's 1st-level and higher spells function this way.
PHB page 103, Sorcerer, Wild Magic, Wild Magic Surge
Starting when you choose this origin at 1st level, your spellcasting can unleash surges of untamed magic. Immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher, the DM can have you roll a d20. If you roll a 1, roll on the Wild Magic Surge table to create a random magical effect.
There are a few good reasons for the changes.
- Being a class ability rather than a spell, ensures that the ability makes sense within the context of being a Wild Mage, rather than say a Thief using "Spell Thief" to steal the spell, or other strange spell cross overs.
- The wild surge can be determined by the DM in cases where the player and DM don't want wild surge to happen all the time.
- Because of the way spell casting works differently in 5e, it would be game breaking if you were allowed to cast a 5th level spell slot spell, using only your first level spell slot.
As [a Is there some reason Wild Sorcerers don't have Nahal's Reckless Dweomer in 5E? states, Wild Surge is the 5th ed version of Nahal's Reckless Dweomer. But in fact, it works much more like the original feature (which I wasn't aware of until it was described here) than it may seem at first.
First--it's worth noting that in general, a solid GM is going to invoke Wild Surge any time they are allowed to if the player is playing a wild sorcerer -- unless either:
- The player is going through some extraodinary effort to prevent this from happening, or
- Timing and pacing constraints make having a wild surge happen at that point inappropriate.
This is because in 5e, the results of Wild Surge are, while as usual mixed, overwhelmingly positive. So having surges go off with regularity is simply part of the character's class feature (it also means that the player can use the die roll manipulation feature (tides of Chaos) frequently, which they're supposed to unless they're trying to avoid random chaos).
This means that when run correctly, a 5e wild mage is going to act pretty similarly to what you've said about a 2e wild mage, except in some ways better (if more balanced):
The player is mostly in control of when wild surges happen. Sure, 1 in 20, any spell they cast will trigger one (if the GM wants it to). But more often, it will be triggered because the player used Tides of Chaos -- directly tempting fate (ie, deciding to trigger a surge on their next--or arguably [it's not clear to me if you use Tides whne making an attack roll with a spell whether the GM can then trigger a surge when you finish casting it, but that's a valid argument!] on that casting if Tides is invoked while you're casting a spell.
The player gets the effect of the spell they're casting in addition to the surge effect.
Mind, there are absolutely 5th level spell effects on the default table -- a 5th level MM, the bonus action teleport for a minute, the polymorph effect (if you save, anyway), and the minute of life insurance via reincarnate.