In the blood – skilled sorcerers
A: Following on from our last class-discussion on bards, I thought we could look at sorcerers this time. Like bards, they’re known-spellcasters, and cast off the cuff rather than preparing their spells each day, as wizards or clerics do. But in other ways—mainly the spells they get, but also their hit die—they’re very similar to wizards. A lot about them is totally unique to their own class too.
C: Truth be told—although I’ve seen quite a few of them as a DM—I can’t say I’ve ever been in the saddle for sorcerer. In terms of playing one as a PC, I mean. But I still got opinions on them, however idiotic, and my opinion is that—dang it—I just feel that they don’t have enough gas in the tank. There are some real cool things about sorcerer bloodlines, but compared to some of the other classes, they’re getting a raw deal. They need some quality care and attention.
A: Wow. You went home for the holidays and came back super American.
C: I got idioms. I got fresh takes. I’m going to use every part of the dang buffalo—
A: So I’m going to talk now. You can join in if you promise to stop using idioms.
A: You’re right that neither of us have played a sorcerer, but we do both have PCs who are sorcerers so we’ve had to look at the class a fair amount. I’m not sure which bloodline Patience has in your game, but the sorcerer in my game, Saoirse, is of the Celestial bloodline.
C: Patience is—actually, if you don’t know I maybe shouldn’t reveal it.
A: Well, Saoirse’s Celestial, which is a really cool bloodline. It’s one of the only ones which gives you healing. But its feats, and really all bloodline feats, are annoying. They don’t seem to relate to what the bloodline does. Like, half her bloodline feats are about horses and riding.
C: And we should point out that wizards get more metamagic feats than sorcerers get bloodline feats. Although about eight are listed for each bloodline, they don’t have enough slots for more than a few.
A: Yeah, sorcerers only get three, and they don’t get the first one until level seven. Like, Saoirse could get the feat Mounted Combat with her bloodline, but at level nine, she can grow wings—is she really going to invest in a horse that she can take into battle for two levels when she’ll soon be able to just fly?
C: You also need to meet the prerequisites for bloodline feats, whereas rangers with combat-style feats don’t need the prerequisites to pick them. Frankly it would make more sense for sorcerers to be like, ‘Whatever dude, I don’t need to know how to do this; it’s in my blood! I don’t need to have trained for it.’
A: That’s true. And with rangers, if you pick your archery subtype or whatever, it’s quite likely that you’re going to have a high Dex, because, well, why wouldn’t you—it makes sense for the class. So they probably often meet the prereqs anyway, which isn’t the case for sorcerers—their bloodline feats don’t link to things you’d naturally be good at. Like, if a Celestial sorcerer doesn’t have a 13 in Dex—and there’s no inherent reason why they should since there are other stats they may need to prioritize, like Charisma—then they can’t access two of their feats, and a third is accessible but pretty pointless.
C: I think getting rid of the prereq-requirement and giving sorcerers extra, better, bloodline feats would be a nice way of improving the class.
A: Rather than increasing their BAB or hit die? They could go up from a d6 to a d8 to be like bards.
C: I think giving them more feats is the most elegant option. It would be fun to be able to make romping-stomping-bruising boys who are sorcerers, and that would be easier with either higher BAB or hit die—but the sorcerer’s parallels with wizard are almost a tenet of D&D. I feel like the feat system is the least offensive thing you can do to keep that relationship/rivalry while changing sorcerers and giving them more to work with.
A: I’m always sad that there isn’t a magic class which gets feats in the way fighters do. Having sorcerers fill that role would be cool. They might have to get slightly fewer spells, but letting them do more with the class through bloodline feats would be nice.
C: Fighters are cool because they’re very customisable through the feats. Letting sorcerers be the magic version of fighters while keeping the parallels with wizards in terms of BAB, saves and stuff, would spice them up. I don’t think it would break the class and it would allow them to go toe-to-toe with wizards in the ring every round.
A: That would be good.
C: Because, for example, when we compare clerics and oracles—two classes which also use a shared spell list—they seem different but similar in a cool way. That’s what I want to feel when looking at wizards and sorcerers.
C: But when I think about sorcerers as they currently are, I instinctively think, ‘This is a version of being a wizard.’ I always think of them as being an alternate, crazy, interesting version of a wizard. I’ve never once looked at wizard and been like, ‘This is the alternative to being a sorcerer.’
A: That’s a really good point. I’d never thought about it in those terms before, but now that you’ve said it, you’re right. For me, I often think of sorcerer as a class which is designed to be multi-classed. Like, it’s designed for players who want to take just one level in it to get a few cool bloodline powers.
C: Yeah. I don’t know if that’s because Patience in my game is a multi-classed sorcerer-inquisitor, but that makes sense.
A: Like, if you’re a rogue then taking a level in sorcerer with the Rakshasa bloodline works because you get the Silver Tongue bloodline power, which adds to your Bluff checks and helps you overcome spells like Zone of Truth.
C: Or a fighter with the Boreal bloodline could improve their weapon damage with the Cold Steel power for one round.
A: In terms of whether wizards and sorcerers are evenly matched, maybe we could each try building one, you a sorcerer and me a wizard—same amount on a point buy, same race, to keep it fair—and then see how close a fight it actually was between them.
C: I don’t know if D&D is really designed for putting character class against character class, but that’s still a fun concept to do. We could give it a try.
A: Or we could see which one kills a monster first. We could play a crazy-golf version of monster-fest where it’s like, ‘How quickly can we get round this dungeon and kill everything?’
C: Hell yeah.