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The Swordmage, A True Arcane Half-Caster for 5e
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The Swordmage, A True Arcane Half-Caster for 5e

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Spellsword.  Battlemage.  Magus.  There are a lot of different names to describe characters who wield martial weapons and arcane spells in tandem.  This class concept is a personal favorite of mine, and though 5e has a lot of options to bring players close to the concept (like the eldritch knight or bladesinger), neither is the true arcane half-caster that most people wish existed. 

My class, which I've named the Swordmage in honor of the 4e class, takes a few cues from that edition, including the strong weapon bond and the third level abilities that two of the archetypes receive.  But it's also something a bit new, and borrows some mechanics from Pathfinder's magus class.  While designing it I tried to keep it similar to the paladin, which many already feel is a fantastic example of a half-caster and a sort of divine sister class to what a swordmage would be.  But I also tried to make it different.  Instead of the ability to sense divine beings and undead, the swordmage can sense the presence of magic.  Instead of getting smite, the swordmage can infuse their weapon with arcane power for extended periods, and channel the strength of full-powered spells through weapon strikes.

The three archetypes presented are designed to reflect the ways I feel a weapon-bonding arcane fighter would choose to focus their abilities.

The battlemage is the heavy-armored battle wizard.  They are designed to take punishment and simultaneously dish it out with spell-and-swordplay, and can help their allies by making an enemy more inclined to attack them.

The spellsword is more a lightly armored skirmishes, and more focused on hitting with arcanely-powered sword strikes.  They are better able to strike spells into a target and can momentarily teleport to take advantage of an opponent's openings.

The third archetype, the eldritch archer, can do many of the things that other swordmages can do but at a longer range.  Arcane Archer is coming out as an official class in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, but for now I feel that my own "arcane archer" archetype will differ enough from the fighter archetype Wizards is releasing to justify its existence.

Please, as I always ask, critique and comment.  It's taken a lot of time to design this class, with a lot of input and opinions from around the Internet.


This work is part of the collections of the Arcane Athenæum.  Check out our other works below.

The Artificer class

The Dragon Shaman class

The Treant player race

The Sharkfolk player race

Crafting Magic Items: A Guide to Artifice

Draconomicon I: Chromatic Dragons

The Explorer's Guide to the Wilderness


Recent Changes:

Version 3.0 29Nov2018

Overall

  • The overall document has been updated, including a new title page to conform to the Arcane Athenæum’s new style.
  • Added guiding bolt and conjure volley to the spell list.
  • Removed the spells expeditious retreat and freedom of movement from the spell list.  This was due to the decision to make them bonus spells for the spellsword subclass, as they were originally added to the spell list for that subclass anyway.
  • All three subclasses have received a set of bonus spells as part of their features.  When you look at existing half-casters in 5e, you have the paladin (where each oath gets bonus spells) and the new ranger subclasses from Xanathar's, which also get bonus spells.  Following this logic, half-casters should get bonus spells as part of their features, hence the change.  The chosen spells are designed with the intended playstyle of the subclass in mind; battlemages get spells which help them protect and defend their allies, eldritch archers get a lot of ranger-like spells which give them more options with things like ammunition and quivers, and spellswords get spells which let them move around quickly and more easily, cementing their role as skirmishers.

Eldritch Archer

  • The Arcane Ammunition feature has been altered, so that the ammunition created does not count as magical.  This was done for three reasons.  1) It was too easy to gain "free" magical damage at such a low level, which generally shouldn't get so quick to come by.  2) Swordmages can make their attacks magical already with their Arcane Infusion feature, which at least costs a resource to use.  This also makes Arcane Infusion slightly more important/valuable, as it was designed to be, as you'll need to use it to get that magic damage.  3) Most of the new bonus spells that eldritch archers get require that they be used with ammunition that isn't magical.  This change thus allows one to use an Arcane Ammunition for the casting of that spell.  Note that the ability to conjure a piece of ammunition is still, itself, magical, so you cannot create a piece of ammunition in an anti-magic field (and one that passed into an anti-magic field would be destroyed).  Magic still creates the ammunition and keeps it around; it just doesn't impart "magical" damage.
  • The Arcane Beacon feature has been improved.  Now, it can be used on arcane ammunition as well as other pieces of ammunition.  The overall wording of the feature has also been changed to be cleaner and, hopefully, work a bit better.

Version 2.1 07Jun2018

Overall

  • Equipment options mistakenly listed “studded leather armor” instead of “leather armor.”  No class, at least to my knowledge, should start with studded leather.

Version 2.0 23May2018

Special thanks to Peter Sherwood for helping me develop these most recent changes to improve the class.  version 2.0 because this does fundamentally change a lot of the subclasses, and alters some features at higher levels.

Overall

  • Changed the name of the "Weapon Bond" feature to "Swordmage Bond."  Though it is very similar to the Eldritch Knight's "Weapon Bond," there are some key differences which I believe necessitates altering the name, since it's not the exact same feature.  This does mean that an EK/Swordmage multiclass can bond to three weapons as the features are different, but I'm comfortable with that; only the weapon chosen for the Swordmage Bond gets to use the Swordmage's features.
  • Added the "Protection Fighting Style" to the "Fighting Style" options, since Battlemages now get shield proficiency.  Yes, there is a single level (2) where you'll have the Protection style but no proficiency with a shield.  Not quite as clean as it could be, but hopefully no one is sitting at 2nd level for very long (I always advocate starting new campaigns at 3rd level anyway).
  • Changed the time a weapon can be infused *back* to 10 minutes.  1 hour provided too much freedom to infuse and then be able to use that single infusion for multiple combats, which messed with the resource usage.  Reducing this to 10 minutes means the Swordmage can't just "infuse and forget".  For most this likely won't be much of a change, since most people aren't having multiple combats an hour, and you can still sheath your weapon and keep it infused during a situation where you will be facing multiple enemies in a short time frame (it's still "being carried" afterall).
  • Magic Ward now requires you to be wielding your bonded weapon to benefit from it.  Again, an ability that probably won't actually cause too many changes, but prevents some weird situations.
  • The "Empowered Infusion" feature has been changed to "Empowered Spell Strike."  After some deliberation, it was decided that the potential +10 damage at these higher levels was so good as to be *too* good, and projections showed that it was just doing too much damage.  Instead, the class now gets to improve its Spell Strikes by rerolling the spell's dice, similar to the Sorcerer's Empowered Spell metamagic.  This is one change I'll be keeping a close eye on for feedback.
  • Added a number of spells to the class's spell list; sleep, magic missilewitch bolt (this is actually kinda okayish now for an Eldritch Archer), fairie firehold personNystul's magic aura, vampiric touch, and blight.  These are all flavorful, and provide some more useful options for spell strike.  *Bestow curse*, however, has been removed as the flavor of the class didn't quite match with its effects (but honestly, if your DM decides they like that spell there, I'm not going to show up at your house and tell you that you aren't allowed to use it).

Battlemage

The Battlemage is meant to be a tanky spellcaster first and foremost; heavy armor and the Swordmage's martial training allows them to wade into combat in a way that your average wizard can't, and they are meant to be the most spell-focused subclass.  This change attempts to push that last part harder.

  • Changed the "Heavy Armor Proficiency" feature to the "Studied Soldier" feature.  This still provides the same bonus of heavy armor and shield proficency, but in addition allows a Battlemage to pick from the Swordmage spell list OR the Wizard spell list when gaining a new spell or re-learning a spell.  Inspired by the Divine Soul Sorcerer as precedent.  In practice, I believe every Swordmage spell *is* a Wizard spell, but this increases the Battlemage's options for more utility and allows me to keep the Swordmage spell list relatively short.  Battlemages get much fewer spells than Wizards and don't have a spellbook, so the ability to choose from a much larger pool of spells is limited by the fact that the Battlemage only gets so many to begin with.    They also only get up to 5th level, so many of the really really powerful Wizard spells remain out of reach.  I believe this keeps the feature perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Eldritch Archer

The original Eldritch Archer concept was a long-rage spell sniper, but the way its features worked with each other were quite boring ("Yay I'm level 15 now!  I get to... cast spells from even farther off the battlemap.  Neat, I guess...").  These altered features make it a more effective sniper and give it a few more tricks, both in-combat and out.

  • "Arcane Ammo" is now "Arcane Ammunition."  Otherwise identical.
  • The "Long-Range Casting" feature for the subclass has been replaced.  It's effects have now been rolled into the "Increased Casting Range" feature, which improves at lvl 15 to be the weapon's long range.  I think a majority of players and DMs will agree that combat rarely occurs at such increased ranges, and so this doesn't throw off balance, but if this ends up being a major issue I will either just remove the "long-range casting" altogether and cap the feature at normal weapon range (which is still a boon for many spells), OR make the feature the weapon's long range from the get-go, so that every spell benefits from it.  Feedback as always is helpful here.
  • "Arcane Beacon" has been changed due to the new lvl 15 feature for the Eldritch Archer.  Now, instead of granting advantage the beacon can be used as a mini-scrying spell.  This provides no direct combat bonus, but instead the Eldritch Archer gets a strong utility spell which allows it to take full advantage of features like its "Phasing Shot" and even its increased casting range.  The ammo can be set up to provide sight for the Eldritch Archer, meaning more potential angles to "Phasing Shot" from, scouting, etc.
  • The new 15th level feature is "Eldritch Accuracy," which allows you to temporarily convert your "Arcane Infusion" from damage to a bonus to hit rolls.  This helps push the Eldritch Archer into the king of accurately hitting things from far away, which is where its strengths lie.

Spellsword

Changes made to the Spellsword are designed to help cement its fantasy and role as a skirmisher.  Now, the Spellsword is able to reposition itself on the battlefield through short-range teleports and make better use of its Arcane Infusion damage and weapon strikes.

  • Removed the "Parry" feature, which wasn't doing much for the subclass's fantasy and stepped on the Battlemage's toes a bit as the "resilient" subclass.  It has been replaced with a new feature, "Infusion Surge," which lets you double the damage of your "Arcane Infusion" once per turn.  This helps push the Spellsword as the subclass that does the best job of running in and hitting people really good with their weapon.  Note that this is once per TURN, so yes you get to use it on your turn and again later during another creature's turn if you get a chance to attack.
  • "Recursive Spell Strike" has been replaced with "Recursive Strike," which combines the "Recursive Spell Strike" concept with the "Spellsword Flourish" concept, which is now also removed.  Now, the feature allows the Spellsword to use a bonus action to attack with their weapon on the same turn that they attempted a "Spell Strike".  If the "Spell Strike" missed, that bonus action can also be used to attempt the strike again (but they do not have to miss to use the bonus action).  This was done because the two features we removed did not combo well, and there was a lot of "I never get to use this feature because using this other feature makes up for it."  I personally don't tend to like that kind of build as it makes one feature feel useless.  The Spellsword should be allowed to get more weapon attacks in; that is its greatest strength compared to the other subclasses, and so this feature essentially lets them attack twice (at the cost of a bonus action) even when they Spell Strike.
  • "Adaptive Infusion" has been replaced with "Arcane Advance," which lets the Spellsword reposition itself through a short-range teleport after making a strike.  While "Adaptive Infusion" was an interesting feature, it didn't really sell the skirmisher playstyle well and, ultimately, was something that wouldn't have been used much.  
  • The new 15th level feature is "Enhanced Counter", which gives the Spellsword advantage on the attack roll it makes when it uses its Arcane Counter feature.
For a full changelog, click here.
 
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Reviews (5)
Discussions (38)
Customer avatar
David D December 07, 2018 6:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
I was wondering what your thought process was for excluding the Two-Weapon Fighting style from this class? Sorry if this has been addressed below.

Loving the updates and updated style by the way!
Customer avatar
Peter S December 07, 2018 5:25 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm pretty sure I have the answer to this having talked to the author, since this class' theme is highly dependent on the notion of bonding to one weapon, and one weapon only. Two weapon fighting is something that's just not thematically accurate to how this class' features work. Since a bonded weapon is a single weapon, not a pair.
Customer avatar
David D November 02, 2018 2:49 am UTC
PURCHASER
A couple things I've been wondering for a while now while playing this class:

If, on your turn, you cast Zephyr Strike for your Bonus Action, can you on the same turn use Spell Strike? Because the wording for Spell Strike says "spend a spell slot as if you were casting the spell as normal." With this wording, it sounds like you should apply the rule of not being able to cast a leveled spell as an Action on the same turn you cast a leveled spell as a Bonus Action. So I guess my question is, can you Spell Strike on the same turn you cast a Bonus Action leveled spell?

Furthermore, whether the answer is yes or no, does Zephyr Strike's ability of giving advantage and extra force damage apply to a Spell Strike? So, let's say turn one I cast Zephyr Strike. Then on turn two I attempt a Spell Strike with chromatic orb and also activate Zephyr Strike's extra ability. Would that effectively give me advantage on the attack AND deal (1d8 weapon + 1d8 force + 3d8 Chromatic orb)? Or can you...See more
Customer avatar
Peter S November 10, 2018 6:39 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Here's how I would work it: no, you can't do that. I would consider "Spell Strike" as the same thing as "Casting a Spell." According to the rules of D&D fifth edition, you cannot cast two spells in one turn UNLESS one of the spells is a cantrip. So, if you wanted to cast Zephyr Strike (which is a fantastic spell to take with this class) and cast something like the Fire Bolt cantrip with your spell strike, you can do that. However, you cannot cast Zephyr Strike as a bonus action, and THEN use your spell strike to cast Scorching Ray as your action. That's something I would rule against since you would be casting a level 1 and a level 2 spell in the same turn. However, you can cast Zephyr Strike beforehand, and on any turns thereafter use the advantage gained by Zephyr Strike to gain advantage on your Spell Strike when casting Scorching Ray. That's a really nice combo. This works because of the way that Zephyr Strike is worded in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. "Once before the...See more
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Jeff V November 12, 2018 1:08 pm UTC
CREATOR
As would I. This would be my ruling as well.
Customer avatar
David D November 14, 2018 2:28 am UTC
PURCHASER
Just as I thought, but glad to have it clarified. I've been using them as a combo but never within the same turn, as you said.

One thing though, I'm not sure you can Spell Strike with cantrips, as per your Firebolt example.
Customer avatar
Jeff V November 14, 2018 1:49 pm UTC
CREATOR
That's true, RAW you can't use cantrips; gotta be a spell of 1st level or higher. That said, if your DM wants to let you expend a spell strike with a cantrip, it still uses up a spell strike use so I wouldn't call it horribly broken.
Customer avatar
Nathan A October 29, 2018 12:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
This smashes the Hexblade and waaay outclasses E. Knight!!!!! Crossing my fingers the DM lets me play it!!!!!! So much power at early levels and progresses strong.
Customer avatar
Peter S November 10, 2018 7:08 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This class may have really cool magic abilities and better magic than the Eldritch Knight, but I don't think it outclasses 4 attacks in a turn, extra feats, action surge, and literally everything that makes a fighter good lol. The same thing for the Hexblade, eldritch invocations are still just as readily available to the Hexblade to amplify their usefulness on top of their class abilities. Warlocks get a TON of choices that make them extremely good at whatever they choose to do. That goes the same for the Eldritch Archer, War Mage, and Spellsword archetypes seen here. They only get the standard 2 attacks (bar the spellsword's arcane counter) per turn, they do get a pretty good modifier buff, but it's not really gonna be going anywhere fast until higher levels. I mean other than that this class is basically just mediating between martial and casting abilities, much like how the Paladin does.
Customer avatar
Mohamad S October 19, 2018 6:26 am UTC
PURCHASER
I really like this class, going to use it in a homebrew campaign with a hobgoblin race for con intelligence bonus. I was just wondering for the empowered spell strike, I can change the damage dice every time I roll for spell strike. So I can do this every turn?
Customer avatar
Peter S October 20, 2018 3:53 am UTC
PURCHASER
Yes, you can do this every turn. You can do this every time you expend a use of your Spell Strike, which you have charges equal to your Intelligence modifier. So, you can do this up to 5 times at most. I'm just noticing this now, but the pdf doesn't actually say that you can only reroll damage dice. I don't think it was intentional, but imagine being able to reroll the dice for sleep or some other spell with a similar effect.
Customer avatar
Mohamad S October 21, 2018 10:22 am UTC
PURCHASER
thx for the quick reply, yeah the sleep reroll would be overpowered.
Customer avatar
Jeff V October 24, 2018 8:31 pm UTC
CREATOR
I believe my intent was actually to allow that after all; you can reroll the dice for the spell. Any spell that has you rolling dice, which includes Sleep. I don't think it's actually very overpowered, especially since every spell used for Spell Strike becomes a single-target spell, so all that will happen is you get to re-roll the amount of HP you can affect with Sleep and have a better chance of actually knocking out the thing you hit. No other creature in the area can be affected by it since it stops being an AoE effect.
Customer avatar
Peter S October 03, 2018 7:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
I actually have a question. Do you think that initiative counts as a Dexterity check for the purposes of Eldritch Might? If so, that's a pretty good bonus to initiative for this class as opposed to the new Ranger, which gets advantage, but not a straight bonus unless they take the Alert feat. So let's try:
Ranger 4/Swordmage 6:
Take Alert feat > That's advantage to initiative rolls plus +13. Mix that with some Assassin rogue and you've got yourself quite the killer. Actually, this class would benefit quite a bit from multiclassing into rogue. Since rogue gets sneak attack on all its attacks of opportunity, the Spellsword effectively increases your range of opportunity attack to 30 ft. This reaction attack is also ensured to have sneak attack since it requires the enemy to be attacking an ally. A Rogue with Zephyr Strike always active is basically a rogue that never has to use cunning action to get away, that can get in and out all the time and just worry about hiding. Also, spell strike...See more
Customer avatar
Jeff V October 03, 2018 1:26 pm UTC
CREATOR
Yes, I see your point. Would be a very big bonus with multiclassing, plus that feat. Arguably not the biggest problem to have; the swordmage gets to go first a lot isn't so terribly horrible to me. It's advantageous of course, and could see some usefulness in lots of situations, even easily beating out lair actions, but to do that you've had to multiclass for 4 levels *and* taken a feat instead of an ASI. That to me is one of those "the player spent their resources to be able to do this."
Customer avatar
Peter S October 03, 2018 9:32 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Oh no, totally, the idea of having +13 to initiative is something they worked towards, and they should be able to do it if they really really want to. I have no problem with that at all. I was kinda just spewing my thoughts when I was pointing out how effective the rogue + spellsword multiclass could be, given that rogue gets sneak attack on attacks of opportunity.
Customer avatar
Peter S October 03, 2018 9:41 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm actually building a character right now that's level 6, Sorcerer 3/ Swordmage 3 for a campaign one of my friends is starting. I took the spellsword subclass for swordmage and Matthew Mercer's "Runechild" sorcerous origin. He's human, so I gave him the Martial Adept feat with maneuvering strike. Here's my thought process: If one of my buddies is dying, and someone's coming to finish them off, I could use my reaction to make a strike against the attacker of my friend, if they survive the hit, I can expend that superiority die to let them move away from the attacker, and essentially take the blows from the enemy instead.
I'm taking this build to kinda be the ultimate abuser of reactions. Everything from reaction attacks to reaction defensive abilities, I want them.
Customer avatar
Jeff V October 18, 2018 5:21 pm UTC
CREATOR
That sounds pretty neat! I hope you enjoy playing as them.
Customer avatar
Kevin B September 24, 2018 1:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hello, I like the class so far but I have a question/comment. You said that this class was based on the paladin/ranger, but I was wondering why do you not include the subclass spells you automatically get at certain levels (i.e. oath of devotion spells, gloom stalker magic)? I feel like this might allow more room for some non-combat spell options
(btw sorry if this has been brought up before and I just didnt see it)
Customer avatar
Peter S September 25, 2018 6:32 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Kevin,
I think it's good to clarify that this class wasn't "based" off of the paladin or ranger class, but instead, it's a similar adaptation of a full caster class, much like they are. Rangers and Paladins are the only half casters in D&D 5e. Rangers can almost be pinned as loosely "based" off of Druids, and Paladins, in the same way, could be "based" off of Clerics. Obviously, this isn't entirely accurate, but thinking of it this way, this class is a half caster adaptation that's "based" off of the Wizard. It's a similar concept to the Ranger and Paladin since they are both 1/2 casters, but the Swordmage is its own thing. As for why this class doesn't get an expanded spell list as the paladin or ranger does, here's the best way I can explain it:

Magic in D&D 5e is divided into two categories (in reference to its source at least). These categories are either Divine magic or Arcane magic. Druids, Clerics, Paladins, and Rangers all cast...See more
Customer avatar
Jeff V September 26, 2018 12:18 pm UTC
CREATOR
The other consideration is that, when I first started developing this class, none of the ranger subclasses got extra spells. That's something which was added to the new subclasses in Xanathar's Guide. While I love that they did that, I think part of the reason for that was the general underpowered-ness of the Ranger class as a whole. I believe that the Swordmage does not suffer from this same issue, and thus the extra spells aren't needed for it.
Customer avatar
Bassam R September 22, 2018 6:48 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm having trouble seeing how this class is balanced. As far as I can tell it seems as if it is just almost a pure upgrade to Eldritch Knight, save you can't use cantrips. Trade extra attacks for spell strike, eldritch might gives +9 ability points to your physical stats (when rolling for an ability check) when you have 20 int, and get free detect magic. Battle Mage gets free heavy armor and shields, a free taunt, can easily gain resistance to any element they chose, and gets the Eldritch Knight's improved war magic 3 levels earlier. Eldritch Archer gets unlimited ammunition, if using a long bow 150 (level 3) or 600 (level 15) range gets added to their spells that have a ranger greater than 10 (basically no touch or self range), the ability to ignore full cover for disadvantage, the ability to scout, and a hit bonus enough to offset the sniper feat on its own. Spell sword with infusion surge gets a potential plus 15 (with 20 int, 10 for the double damage, 5 for the extra attack at level 5) damage on their turn,...See more
Customer avatar
Peter S September 25, 2018 7:01 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hey Bassam,
I'm glad you like the class, and especially that you've put a lot of thought into it as well, as I helped work on the most recent rework, or "overhaul" of a lot of the class abilities. Most of my work was poured into fixing the Spellsword subclass, so I'm glad you like that especially <3. But anyways, I think it's a pretty obvious comparison to compare the abilities of the eldritch knight to this class, since, in theory, they're pretty similar. However, I don't think that this is a straight upgrade. I mean, thematically, this class does things much, much, better, but the eldritch knight is a fighter at heart, not a half-caster wizard archetype. Let's jump into this, then:
Fighters? Well they get tons and tons of versatility. They're probably the best abusers of magic items and combinations of meta-game builds. Literally everybody dips into fighter if they want a cool multiclass because Action Surge is just. that. good. Fighters are the only class in the game to get...See more
Customer avatar
Bassam R September 26, 2018 12:54 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the reply!
That cleared a lot of things up, I might still not allow it in my games (I don't allow most homebrews races/classes/etc. and am very picky about the ones I let through) but this helped clear points up so I can review this subclass more fairly. Some other points I brought up (like cooldowns) can easily be homebrewed in so I don't think that's worth discussing ad nauseam. However, I do take issue with the Eldritch Archer's Arcane Ammunition. The first, not really having to with combat, being cost efficiency. Especially in a very encounter heavy low level campaign getting arrows for free can save a good amount of money (1gp per 20). Now that doesn't seem like a lot, but taking in to account that these arrows are magical even if, for some reason as an archer, you didn't bind to the bow and bound to probably a rapier instead; Those arrows (going by the cost of silvered weapons) are worth about 10gp each (not implying that they can be sold, just the value of this ability). It also eliminates...See more
Customer avatar
Peter S September 26, 2018 4:26 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hey!
I think you have some pretty good points here, so lemme try to address them how I would if someone tried pulling this in my campaign. I am a DM for a fairly large group and I try to discourage them from power gaming like this by binding them to a specific story element that makes sense for them to make a certain character ability choice. For example, if one of my players came to me as they were playing a Swordmage and said they want to multiclass into fighter, then I would ask them why their character has a sudden change of heart, and what influences other NPC's, story events, and motivations would lead them to such a conclusion. But anyway, here we go: I actually had made a build like this before. When I first started playing D&D, I made a ranger with the intent of multiclassing him to paladin. My initial thoughts were because these were my two favorite classes in World of Warcraft and the thought of shooting from afar and then hammer and shield time with glorious ebb and flow was really...See more
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Einar Bogsnes H September 21, 2018 10:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Seems very well designed overall, probably my favourite homebrew class that I've seen so far on the DM's guild. One thing that does bother me though is how the class seems like it is fairly close to just being a commoner at level 1 with no particularly relevant combat abilities followed by a big powerspike at level 2 because of it getting both a combat style and spellcasting at the same time. I wonder if it would be a better experience to play it if the magic sense and fighting style features were swapped around, such that you get relevant features at level 1 and 2 instead of getting all of them at level 2.

Even doing that I'd probably argue that a fighter seems stronger at level 1 because second wind is likely better than swordmage bond, however with a fighter having both a fighting style and second wind at level 1 compared to the swordmage not really having anything relevant seems like something that should be avoided.
Customer avatar
Peter S September 25, 2018 7:11 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Einar,
To be honest, I think this one is a little unavoidable. When I think of level one, I don't think of the whole glitz and glory quite yet. From what I've seen, there are some pretty good options for level one abilities from the base 5e classes, but paladin and ranger are kinda left in the same pit this one is left in. Paladin is less so tbh. Ranger? They get favored enemy and natural sense. Basically means that they get some niche buffs that they're never gonna use until they're strong enough to face some tougher brawn. Paladins get lay on hands, but again they can only heal 5hp with it. I mean these classes might as well be peasants, they're level one! They've got a lot to prove before they can really show the world their worth. Nobody's really going to stay at level 1 for long, all they really need at this point is the proficiencies in the weapons that they have. Players of level one characters know that they have a lot to look forward to, and I think it's fair to leave them with some...See more
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Jeff V September 26, 2018 12:11 pm UTC
CREATOR
Indeed, and the fighting style/spellcasting at lvl 2 is identical to the progression of the paladin and ranger, the other 1/2 casters. It may be a bit of a power spike, but it's clearly an intended one by 5e's designers.
Customer avatar
joshw W September 20, 2018 8:19 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I have a question, in the class under "Spellcasting" you have "Your time spent learning the intricacies of magic allows you to create greater effects beyond the form of your weapon, giving you the ability to cast spells at 2nd level" can you explain this a bit, I'm new to casters and this makes me think that I can cast a level one spell but get level 2 results.
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Jeff V September 21, 2018 4:40 pm UTC
CREATOR
It's just fluff talk for "now you can do *real* magic." If you read through the PHB pretty much every spellcasting class provides a fluffy explanation for how they get their spellcasting.
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Eduardo N September 11, 2018 10:42 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm confused. The Eldritch Might says that you can add half your Intelligence modifier to any Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution ability check, but there is no Constitution check. By that you mean saving throws?
Customer avatar
Jeff V September 12, 2018 12:14 pm UTC
CREATOR
You're thinking strictly in terms of skill checks, but a skill check is just a kind of ability check. Your DM could ask for a general Constitution check, or a Constitution (Athletics) check, or anything like that.
Customer avatar
Eduardo N September 12, 2018 11:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Oh, I see. Thank you!
Btw I'm loving this class and cant wait to use in a future campain
Customer avatar
Jeff V September 13, 2018 12:10 pm UTC
CREATOR
NP! I hope you enjoy using it whenever you get the opportunity. What subclass you thinking of playing?
Customer avatar
Jamie E September 10, 2018 2:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
I enjoy the Professionalism you put into this class, way more balanced than the other 5e adaptations of the Swordmage I've found in my opinion exspecially with only the skirmishing archetype teleporting around, more akin to the 4e Swordmage I loved. I'm not exactly sure why you believe it can't have cantrips just cause the Paladin and Ranger don't, the subclass for the fighter, Eldritch Knight, has cantrips, and I feel it should be a fighter trying magic where this variant is more akin to a mage learning to fight. Would cantrips really make this class so overpowered?
Customer avatar
Jeff V September 10, 2018 12:08 pm UTC
CREATOR
Thank you!

In regards to the cantrip thing, Eldritch Knight gets cantrips because it's a 1/3 caster. The other 1/3 caster (Arcane Trickster) also gets cantrips. Paladins and Rangers are 1/2 casters, and do not receive cantrips. Because this is a 1/2 caster, I believe it is in the best interest of the game design as a whole that it falls in line with those other 1/2 casters and also not receive any cantrips.

Keep in mind that, if Wizards should ever disprove this design choice of cantrip-less 1/2 casters, and puts out a 1/2 caster with access to cantrips, I shall update the class accordingly. But for now, every official 1/2 caster in the game does not have cantrips.
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Jamie E September 16, 2018 3:27 am UTC
PURCHASER
I didn't think of it that way. Kind of backwards for Wizards, lesser fraction of casters having cantrips. :P But I understand following the same guidelines for a balanced integration for home-brew games.
Customer avatar
Peter S October 08, 2018 6:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I think it has a good reason for it, really. When you think about it, 1/2 casters are always full classes, whereas 1/3 casters are always subclasses. 1/2 casters are martial classes that depend on spell slots to function, such as the paladin. The paladin can blow through spell slots with their divine smite, but their spell slots act as the resource limit that they have to enhance this damage. However, with 1/3 casters, they have significantly fewer spell slots than the 1/2 casters. Since their base class is a full martial class, they're not going to be as dependent on the spell slots as a resource, but instead, they're going to use it to supplement their damage and utility. So since they don't depend on the resource of spell slots, it should be fair to give them innate, "at-will" spells that let them fully flesh out their character.

People have argued that half casters should have cantrips, and honestly they can if they take the magic initiate feat, but that's not what it's about...See more
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William E August 12, 2018 9:40 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm loving using this class in my latest campaign, great job on it! I was just wondering if you would perhaps upload it to DnD Beyond as a homebrew class as it's a really simple platform for updating a character sheet on the go. I'd be willing to upload on your behalf if you weren't interested in doing it yourself, of course I would give full credit and links to this site. Even if you ain't into that, thanks a lot for a great class!
Customer avatar
Peter S August 12, 2018 10:58 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Unfortunately, I don't believe DnD Beyond allows the addition of Homebrew base classes to their site. You can add spells, magic items, subclasses, monsters, and the like, however, base classes aren't permitted as far as I'm aware.
Customer avatar
Jeff V August 15, 2018 12:34 pm UTC
CREATOR
Indeed; I'd gladly upload it otherwise. I'm hoping they will allow custom classes someday.
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William E August 16, 2018 1:19 am UTC
PURCHASER
Oh damn, next time I'll look into it before suggesting. Hey thanks anyway guess I'm sticking with my pen and paper!
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Steven C July 29, 2018 4:06 pm UTC
PURCHASER
(Another question) When I started writing up my lvl 4 Swordmage I got the the lvl 2 Fighting Style abilities. They can chose the Protection Style however it notes that it requires a shield. The only way to get a shield in the class is at Lvl 3 with the Battlemage (variant Human aside). Is this intended?
Customer avatar
Jeff V July 29, 2018 5:59 pm UTC
CREATOR
Unfortunately yes, this is intended. I know it’s wonky, but there’s no clean way to make it work otherwise. My hope is how most people start at lvl 3 so it’s a non-issue, or your DM will let you use a shield anyway at lvl 2.
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Steven C July 29, 2018 2:32 pm UTC
PURCHASER
It looks like in the past Arcane Infusion was a damage type that you got to chose however currently this is Force Damage. The issue is that the Battlemage 11th level ability Elemental Protection gives the Swordmage resistance against the energy type used in their Arcane Infusion which is now always Force.
Customer avatar
Jeff V July 29, 2018 5:58 pm UTC
CREATOR
At lvl 10 the base class gets to choose any element again, so at lvl 11 the feature gets full use. :)
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Steven C July 29, 2018 8:48 pm UTC
PURCHASER
You know I read the Elemental Infusion ability when reading up on the core class but never put 2 and 2 together when I hit the Elemental Protection ability to realize it affected it. Awesome, thanks for the reply.
Customer avatar
Brett T July 12, 2018 7:06 pm UTC
PURCHASER
5e Swordmage Class Questions
(3)Spell Strike

Starting at 3rd level, you can use an action on your turn to attempt a spell strike, concentrating a spell into your weapon and using the strike to cast it onto a target. Choose a spell you know of 1st level or higher with a casting time of one action, and spend a spell slot as if you were casting it as normal. The spell must be capable of targeting a hostile creature or have an area of effect in the shape of a cone, cube, cylinder, line, or sphere.

As part of the action, you then make a single weapon attack with your bonded weapon. If the attack hits, the target suffers the attack’s normal effects and the effects of the spell. The target has disadvantage on all saving throws made against the spell, and automatically fails Dexterity saving throws. Whether the weapon attack hits or misses, the spell slot is expended and the magic fades from your weapon.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your intelligence...See more
Customer avatar
Jeff V July 12, 2018 9:42 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hey, thanks for the question. Let me see if I can answer for you.

With the Hold Person situation, the intention is for the spell strike to only impose disadvantage on the initial save. The idea here is that, by putting the spell into your weapon, and then attacking with it, you are concentrating the magic in such a way that the opponent has a more difficult time resisting it, partly because they are getting stabbed at the same time the magic affects them. This is also why they auto-fail Dex saves; getting hit by the weapon means they can't avoid the Dex-based spell. Once the initial save is made, and assuming they fail it, the magic remains as you'd expect for the spell, but they are no longer at disadvantage on the save. Now it's affecting them like a normal spell.

For the Fireball situation, there is no 20ft radius flame. The effect of the spell, Fireball in this case, is concentrated in the weapon when you make the attack. The creature you are attacking gets affected *as if...See more
Customer avatar
Brett T July 13, 2018 12:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Jeff,

Thank you for the answers. That clears things up in case my group needs those at the table.

Is there a preferred forum/board for suggestions/feedback/ideas with your work?
Customer avatar
Gage N September 29, 2018 3:22 am UTC
PURCHASER
Whoa, so if I blast someone with a Spell Strike Fireball, no one but them takes damage? I suppose the risk is 1. Missing, 2. Being a half caster those spells are precious. 3. But Spellsword has Recursive strike...do you see where I'm going with this?
Customer avatar
Jeff V October 03, 2018 1:05 pm UTC
CREATOR
I'll take questions pretty much anywhere; here, Twitter (@DnDAthenaeum), FB(The Arcane Athenaeum), or comments on the post on my website (thearcaneathenaeum.org). I will say that I'm much less likely to respond to questions here quickly, since I don't get any alerts when a new comment has been posted, but I also know it's where a majority of people come to find the class.
Customer avatar
Jeff V October 03, 2018 1:07 pm UTC
CREATOR
I do... but I'm not sure what your greater point is. You are sacrificing the ability to damage multiple targets with a large AoE effect, which all of them can potentially Dex-save out of full damage, and instead using your Dexterity to make an attack roll and only hurt one of them. There are tradeoffs to both, and neither option is necessarily the best option in a given situation. Sometimes it would be better to just cast it normally.
Customer avatar
David D July 04, 2018 5:07 am UTC
PURCHASER
Been following this class for a while and love seeing how far it's progressed. It's one of my favorite designs for a Swordmage class, and I've seen a lot of them! One quick clarification question: for Eldritch Might at level 6, does this bonus apply to all abilities based on Str/Con/Dex, like athletics or slight of hand, or just straight Str/Con/Dex rolls?

I'm asking because I've had DM's in the past occasionally tell me, "Make a straight Dex check with just your Dex modifier" or something. RAW, it sounds as though Eldritch Might would only come into play in those cases - unless I'm misinterpreting it.
Customer avatar
Jeff V July 09, 2018 1:21 pm UTC
CREATOR
It applies to all Str/Con/Dex ability checks, which includes skill checks. Technically, in 5e there are no skill checks; there are ability checks, saving throws, and attack rolls. A "skill check" is an ability check that has a skill which can be applied to it, and thus grant proficiency.

So when you are making an Athletics check, you are making a Str ability check, and the character's skill in Athletics also applies. So if they are proficient in that skill, they get that bonus to the ability check.

Might have been more technical an answer than you were looking for. But yes, it applies to skills as well. And thank you for the kind words!
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File Last Updated:
November 29, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on October 19, 2017.