Aetherium Sage: A Wizard Subclass by J M di Girolamo (@earthsembers)
Taking inspiration from Aes Sedai from River Jordan’s Wheel of Time, the video game Control from Remedy Entertainment and Doctor Strange from Marvel Comics, the Aetherium Sage “sits in the Venn diagram between the Divination, the Chornurgy Wizard and the Evocation Wizard...designed for those who want to alter and shift reality, especially on the battlefield.”
The School of The Aether is less a traditional ‘school’, rather ambitious lone scholars who wants to push the limits of their abilities to see into and shape reality. I can see these wizards quite easily following the path of Neo from the Matrix or young Anakin Skywalker.
At 2nd level Aether Savant grants the half time and cost of copying spells seen in various other arcane traditions, but what is interesting is the Defensive Shard. This grants the ability to defect an attack against the Aetherium Sage or their ally by warping reality and space-time into a “crystal-like shard” that gives the attack disadvantage with a second and third daily use at higher levels. This is some glorious bullet-time magic says no good times, which not only looks cool but can be very handy in a pinch, especially as this ability would allow it to be used against surprise attacks and trap attacks as written. I could see the stipulation of this ability only working for attacks from sources the Aetherium Sage can see, though as is it does reflect just how wibbley-wobbley realith-shmeality these wizards are.
At 6th level you gain the ability to Warp Reality, giving you a chance to cast spells without consuming a spell slot. The chance is very small, but becomes incrementally higher as levels progress. There aren’t any restrictions on the number of times this ability is used at present. This is a quiet, unassuming ability which can seem puzzling over or underpowered, depending on your perspective. But this one of those abilities that will create some clutch moments and I can definitely see those moments when everyone crowds around the dice tray and erupts with joy when the Aetherium Sage is down to their last slot and in the thick of it. You gotta love evergreen abilities.
At 10th level you become an Aetherium Weaver adding intelligence mod to the damage of aether spells. I’ll get to the spells in a moment, but I do enjoy the various subclasses that allow the additional use of ability mods in specific situations (as Swashbuckler does with adding Charisma mod to Initiative, etc.), and why should Warlocks get all the fun with ability mods with Agonising Blast? Aetherigonising Blast really doesn’t have the same ring to it as Aetherium Weaver.
Also at 10th level you get access to a cool ability pairing in Tear Reality, allowing you to “use your knowledge of the shape of the weave tear a hole in space” that you can bamf through once a day, as well as the another once a day ability to divine your opponent’s actions to lay it up for your allies to kick a bullseye. It’s always nice to have a free get out of jail card for when things get rough (or just for logistical ease) and a guiding hand will always be welcomed by the others in your party.
At 14th level you can Detect Weaves, essentially giving you a very short range True Seeing, as well as the ability to not be seen at all yourself. These are some more funky tools to play with.
The supplement also contains five flavourful Story Prompts for DMs and, six ambitions and six flaws to help round out your Aetherium Sage, and bring them into your games either side of the screen
Finally, there are six new spells for the Aetherium Sage, including blasting your foes with hardener chunks of reality, unleashing random elemental effects, including a mini-hurricane, unleashed white hot aether fire from your hands, peak behind the skeins of fate, reach into the weave to deny your foes or ensure your allies’ success, and indulge in devastating unmaking with terrifying results.
This is a seriously fun jack of all trades Swiss army wizard MacGyver who can get in and out of trouble, and deliver some unique whizzbang while they’re at it. The Aetherium Sage is a brilliant mix of existing and new ideas; something old, something new, something borrowed and something blown through the weave and obliterated in aether fire!
[5 of 5 Stars!]