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This question already has an answer here:

Are there any rules to facilitate a character who wants to change his emphasis within the same class? My specific issue now is a wizard who has figured out that the spell school he began with is not suitable, and wants to "change his major". He is currently a 3rd level Evocation, and wants to study Abjuration instead from now on.

Does he (a) keep his 2nd level benefit for Evocation, and start studying Abjuration from new, gaining those benefits starting counting from now, or (b) forget everything he knew about Evocation, and suddenly become an Abjurer retroactively, with already having the 2nd level benefit and proceeding from here, or (c) forget everything he knew about Evocation, and start studying Abjuration from new, gaining those benefits starting counting from now (which seems to me to be quite a penalty), or (d) it's simply not allowed to decide to study something different and he needs to make a new character?

I'm not talking about multi-classing, or changing class. I want to know how to adjudicate, within the RAI to the extent possible, a wizard deciding to study a different school of magic than he began with. Since wizard knowledge is pretty much entirely based on study and knowledge, this should be possible, from both a character standpoint and a realism standpoint.

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marked as duplicate by J. A. Streich, LegendaryDude, Adam, diego, user17995 Feb 8 '17 at 20:17

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can a PC change Backgrounds mid-campaign? \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Feb 8 '17 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a better title, but it is a duplicate. I've voted to close. You aren't calling it multi-classing, but if you read the question, it is the same intent as the original question. Your player wants to choose two sub-classes of the same class. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Feb 8 '17 at 17:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ It isn't a duplicate; the other question's answers do not answer this question, beyond "you can't do that". It isn't that the player wants to choose two subclasses of the same class. He chose one that doesn't fit, and wants to know if/how to change. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Feb 8 '17 at 17:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think I do see a distinction, so I will answer. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Feb 8 '17 at 17:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you the DM in this case? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 '17 at 17:57
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Technically, no. But, as a DM, I think B is best bet, here's why (in order of favored to least favored options).

(b) Retraining (Swap)

This seams like the best option RAW and RAI. This is essentially creating a clone of the character who happened to study a different school of magic, who is instantly swapped with their doppelganger. You would end up with a RAW lvl 2 wizard who is just of the other school. Story wise, you might want to come up with a reason for why they lost Spell Sculpt and gained Arcane Ward, but that could be as simple as "the arcane knowledge takes up too much head space to know both", something to do with the weave not being that strong, or Ioun not liking it... or whatever.

(d) Not Allow It, and new Character (Just Say No)

This is likely the most RAW answer, but it is also the least fun and could make your player quit (but not likely unless other things are going on). In the real world at the table, the point of the game is be fun.

If the player constantly requests these kinds of large changes, the answer is no; but if they made a mistake early on and they new to the game, and this is the first request there is no harm in working with them. I would make it clear this is a one time deal and you're not bending the whole world to their whim.

(c) Forgetting and Starting Fresh (Penalty for Changing)

This is too steep a penalty that will continually have your wizard at a huge disadvantage. It is very likely a penalty that steep would make your player quit, and the point of the game is be fun. I wouldn't do it.

(a) Multiclassing the Same Class (Gaining Both)

Choosing multiple wizards schools can causes problems because different schools strengths are at different levels. Portent from divination is is really strong and you get it at level 2, as is the arcane ward and it also starts at level 2. That means you could end up with a really OP character that can change rolls and have extra resilience through the arcane ward at the same time, which is strictly better than any cross-class multiclass. Which is why it is forbidden as we see in this question: Can you multiclass the same class twice for different class features?

This is clearly the farthest from RAW or RAI, and would likely ruin your game experience for more than just the wizard character. They would be gaining more power than the rest of the players.

Whatever you do

You are the DM. The rules are there as a guide, not as a law. If you and your player agree on a way forward that isn't exactly RAW or RAI, but it doesn't upset balance to the game, do it. If it doesn't work out balance wise, tweak it.

Plot Device

These sorts of changes can drive the story. Maybe to this change requires some action on the part of the player. Find an item or book, help an archmage, or some other quest to gain the reward of retraining.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be improved with justification for the order in which you've ranked the options. You say B is best, then rather than explaining why it's best, you explain how to go about doing it. \$\endgroup\$ – inthemanual Feb 9 '17 at 1:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ By RAW you cannot multiclass in a single class, but is it really any worse than standard multiclassing? A DM who allows multiclassing is already dealing with players dipping into different classes to cherrypick their best features. Doing so within a class is more of the same, and probably actually suboptimal. Compare multiclassing Evocation/ Abjuration with a dip into nearly any other class, most of which give you better AC, more hp, and cool new abilities. \$\endgroup\$ – Clearly Toughpick Feb 9 '17 at 11:37
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The rules have no provision for it, but I'd suggest just letting him swap. Rationale: Third level is when a lot of class choices get made, he's new to it, he made a choice that hasn't worked out for him, just swap the abilities in and ignore the continuity question.

I have both run and played in games where we just let people change character build choices based on how the character was working out. It doesn't cause problems, in general, it just makes people happier.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for adding support to the answer. You might want to take the tour for an introduction to how the site works. Cheers! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 6 '17 at 5:10
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Option (b).

As players, sometimes we pick classes that we like, only to realise after a few sessions that we don't like them as much as we though we would.

Adventurer's League, the organised play scheme for D&D, allows you to rebuild your character any number of times before you reach 5th level. You can’t change Character Name, Story Origin, Experience Points, Magical Items, Renown, Downtime, Equipment (except for starting equipment) but everything else can be changed.

In a home game, you can allow the same.

In-game, we don't attempt to justify the change. If I change my character, Bêlit, from a Wizard to a Rogue, then Bêlit has always been a Rogue. We conveniently overlook memories of Bêlit casting spells.

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No, but there used to be....

Why not just use/adapt the previously existing rules for doing that exact thing from 3rd edition. You will find the rules in question in the DMG II. Or one could wait till they officially release a supplement for 5e with those rules in it.

Specifically, the retraining rules, though a couple of possible options exist. Basically, the idea is that the party and/or character goes on a quest/adventure involving the desired new feature they wish to acquire, if they succeed, they forget the previous feature and learn the new one in exchange.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe summarize the gist of those rules? \$\endgroup\$ – Mala Feb 8 '17 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was trying to be vague on purpose, since it is a 5e question after all. I didn't want to sound like I was saying, "go play 3rd" or something. So, I'll leave my answer fairly non-specific, but I hope this is sufficient a summary? \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Feb 8 '17 at 19:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I'll take a look at that. I played (modified homebrew) 1st ed from 1978 until this year, and now am switching to 5e, and no versions in between much. I think I played a character for a couple sessions of 3.5e, but didn't spend any time with the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Feb 8 '17 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhilBoncer Seems similar to my journey, though I did play a bit of 3.5e and ended up not caring for it. Also, consider accepting DJ's answer since you seem to have liked it. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 '17 at 22:17

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