Sorcerer class - how bad is this design?

Hi all,

So my son wants to play a 3e+ style sorcerer class, with a large number of spells per day from a limited spell list. How dumb is this for a custom class:

HD 0, Fight 0, Divine 0, Arcane 1, Thievery 3 (trade for custom powers: 3@1st, 2@2nd, 1@3rd-10th, 12th-14th levels)

HD d4, fight as Mage, spells as Mage of 1/3rd level (bonus for high Int) with 1 1st level spell at 3rd character level

1st level: bonus prof., 2 spell-like abilities (1st level spells)
2nd level: bonus prof., 1 spell-like ability (1st level spell)
3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th level: swap 1 previous spell-like ability
4th, 5th level: 1 spell-like ability (1st or 2nd level spell)
7th, 8th level: 1 spell-like ability (1st, 2nd, or 3rd level spell)
10th: Sanctum (as special ability instead of Hideout)
12th, 14th level: 1 spell-like ability (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th level spell)

Bonus profs. and spell lists will be thematic based on common Sorceror origins (dragons, elementals, outer planets, Fey, etc.); this will hopefully curb the power of all the spell-like abilities. Could also enforce mix of damage and utility spells.

Any thoughts very welcome; thanks in advance.


So as I see it, this class is getting 1/3 casting with a handful of extra slots, plus some bonus proficiencies. If that's a misread let me know. But as that appears, it seems significantly underpowered at later levels compared to a standard Mage that will have lots of proficiencies (high Int + Familiar) and more slots at higher levels. At 1st level it will be strong, but after that it will drop off significantly. It's also a lot cheaper than Mage, but even so . . . (and I'm not sure, but I feel like there may be a limit that a class rounds it XP cost up to 1250 XP to 2nd level if it would otherwise be lower than that).

If you have access to Axioms 1 it has rules for designing custom magic systems that are highly applicable here. Notably, the divine and arcane spell slot progressions are interchangeable, so building an arcane spell list class with divine slot progression works just fine, it'll use the standard Arcane XP costs for each build point. Instead of a repetoire it will have something similar to a cleric/priestess list, but you can buy a bonus proficiency by dropping 4 spells from the list (I assume, based on Apostasy). Again, still reccomend checking out Axioms 1, it has some really good stuff in there for customizing magic types.

I do have Axions 1 somewhere, thanks for the advice!

By the way, have you seen this class by the Wandering Gamist? Might be just what you need:

Oh hey, thanks for the link. Fair warning, that sorcerer class has not been playtested and I worry a little about it being balanced. I hadn’t really considered the possibility of non-extraplanar power sources (like dragon-blood or fey) but I think they could work OK with the patron oath mechanics (if it’s dragon-blood manifesting, then weird diet is changes to digestive system, for example).

I also had a nightblade variant at one point that ran on spell-like abilities instead of spellcasting ( ). Had a guest player run one for one session at around 4th or 5th level and it seemed strong at that point. I sort of agree with Arbrethil’s scaling concern for your sorcerer proposal - for the nightblade, as the spell-like abilities got weaker compared to arcane casting, the thief skills got stronger. But for a class that is low-point-value arcane plus spell-like abilities, they don’t have something scaling up into the high levels.

One solution would be to change low-point-value arcane casting to keep the same maximum spell level, but give fewer slots ( ). But I didn’t elaborate that proposal down to Arcane 1, only Arcane 2. I think there was an Axioms article that also made Arcane 2 stronger but I forget the details, and am not sure if it buffer Arcane 1 either.

Also the lower XP cost only puts them about one level ahead of mage most of the time because of the exponential XP scaling. So when they hit 7th and get a 3rd-level spell, the MU is around 6th and has had a 3rd for a while. I dunno, that’s actually not too bad. Maybe just the spell-like abilities after 9th need help, because when you’re first getting 4th-level spells at 12th, the MU is hitting 11th and getting 6th-level spells, and your one point of arcane is giving you caster level 4 for 2nd-level spells. So at that point I think you’re probably no longer competitive. I think you could probably go up to 5th- and 6th-level spell-like abilities up there.

[quote="jedavis"]  I think there was an Axioms article that also made Arcane 2 stronger but I forget the details, and am not sure if it buffer Arcane 1 either. [/quote]

There was, and it affected Arcane 1 (and 3) as well.

What I did in that article was I recalculated the reduced spellcasting effect based on spell points, so you had access to (say) 33% as many spells as a mage of your level, instead of having the spells of a mage of 1/3 your level.  Because mage spellcasting increases in power nonlinearly (which is reflected in the total value of spell points available to them by level), this ended up significantly increasing the power of Arcane 1-3 at higher levels, by making them actually 1/3 as useful as a mage in terms of spellcasting; the fact is simply that a level 4 mage is not 1/3 as useful a spellcaster as a level 12 mage, but if you give them 1/3 the spell points of a level 12 mage and then 'spend' those to give them a new spells per day table, you end up with something that looks a lot more right.  (I also applied some smoothing and some design decisions to it.)