DnD - Masters of the Arcane
Last time we briefly covered the differences between most of the classes in the standard Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook, noting their general strengths and weaknesses as well as potential play styles. This time we dive into the differences between the 3 primary arcane spell casters; the Sorcerer, the Warlock, and the Wizard. It is easiest to break down how each class approaches the facets of spellcasting and their mechanics one at a time. This is to give a new player a quick reference to look at to determine what they may like to play without having to flip back and forth in the book comparing and contrasting each feature. Just as with last time, this is a very general guide for each of the classes. With that in mind, let’s jump into it!
General Guide of Masters of the Arcane for DnD
The Basics –
First, none of the caster classes may learn a spell that is beyond their level of casting, as in they must be able to cast a spell of that level according to their respective “Spell Slots per Spell level Table” in the Players Handbook regardless of how their class learns and casts a spell. A spell cast from a scroll is a different story, but that is a subject for another day.
Secondly…Cantrips. Cantrips are minor magical abilities that each of these classes can use and require no spells slots to cast. Each class gets to pick a certain number of Cantrips during character creation and cannot change these once chosen.
Spells Known and Spells Learned –
A Sorcerer begins the game with a certain level of spells that they know, and this number goes up by a set amount as the Sorcerer becomes more powerful.
While they cannot learn any new spells between this progression, they are able to swap out a single spell upon reaching the next level as well as potentially gaining a new spell. This means that spells must be chosen wisely and with forethought. You may be stuck with them for a while.
A Warlock starts and learns spells in the same way as the Sorcerer and is only able to swap a spell when they achieve the next level, so once again, choose your spells carefully.
Wizards approach the learning of spells differently. At 1st level, they begin with 6 first-level spells written in their Spell Book and may add 2 more spells every time they reach a new level. Where they excel is the learning of new spells between levels. At any time, a wizard may attempt to transcript a spell scroll or a spell from another Spell Book into their own book, effectively gaining the ability to prepare that spell permanently. Keep in mind that a Wizard may only have a certain amount of spells “prepared” per day, but we will cover that later. To learn the spell, the Wizard must simply spend two hours and 50 gold per level of the spell they are trying to copy. This effectively gives Wizards access to every arcane spell if they can find a source to copy it from!
Spell Slots –
The Sorcerer may cast a number of spells in accordance with the classes table listed on page 100 of the Players Handbook. Since the maximum number of spells known is equal to or less than the total number of spell slots available, the Sorcerer has access to all their spells as long as they have slots to cast them. Remember, you may only cast a spell at the spells base level or higher, meaning you can use a 4th level spell slot to cast a 4th, 3rd, 2nd, or 1st level spell, but not a higher-level spell. Some lower-level spells gain more potency if cast at a high level, while some do not. Make sure to read the spell’s description to see if casting at a higher level has any bonus effects!
Warlocks have the cool feature that ALL of their spells are cast at their highest level. This means that they get fewer slots, usually only a handful total, but each of those slots are cast at the level listed on the table on page 106 of the Players Handbook. To balance out this incredibly small pool of spell slots, the Warlock gains what is called Invocations. These Invocations are unique gifts that grant the Warlock buffs or even grant them access to some spells they can cast as many times as they want without expending spell slots! This also adds a lot to the customization of the class.
The Wizard’s spell slot table is identical to the Sorcerer’s, with the only difference being how the wizard uses those slots. Since the Wizard can have access to a vast repository of spells in their book, they are limited to which spells they have access to on any one day. They choose a number of spells from their book equal to their Wizard level combined with their Intelligence Modifier to “memorize” or “prepare”, aka have access to, for that day. They can change this selection every day by swapping out for other spells in their Spell Book, giving them a great deal of diversity in their skills set.
The Unique Parts –
Now for the fun bits! Obviously, each of these classes have subclasses so that no two are completely the same, but each also has something special about them that make them unique. Lets take a quick dive into some of those special skills that separate each of these three from the other, and see how they affect their respective class.
The Sorcerer gains access to something called Metamagic, which requires a special resource known as Sorcery Points. They have a number of sorcery points equal to their Sorcerer level and can use those points to change how spells they cast work. The Sorcerer can pick 2 Metamagic options at 3rd level, and then add 1 more option at levels 10 and 17. There is a list of them on page 102 of the PHB. Only one Metamagic can affect a spell at a time, and you cannot change these after you pick them like you can your spells. This means you will have to carry your choices through the entire life of the character, so choose wisely!
As stated before, Warlocks have a very limited amount of spell slots to utilize in combat. To make up for this they get an absolutely insane amount of customizations. Between the Invocations mentioned above, one of which can be changed with every level up, to their Pact Boon, basically the template you would like to build a Warlock from such as spell casting or melee fighting, to their diverse list of Patrons that bestow special spells and abilities to them, you can really build a Warlock to do almost anything.
Wizards are the most cut and dry of the three classes in their customization. They usually just specialize in a particular type or “school” of magic, such as Evocation of Conjuration, and this makes any spell they cast from that school more powerful. There are a few other options in the supplemental materials that add some tricks to the Wizards arsenal, but for the most part the Wizard class serves as the “purest” spellcaster of the group, making them incredibly powerful in later levels.
The World is Your Oyster –
With so many options in each of the three classes, the only limits for an arcane spell slinger are your imagination. The key is to build a character that will enjoy playing. From there, everything else will fall into place.