Update: The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide is now out, you can order it now via Amazon here.
So on Tuesday, I went over my thoughts and anticipation for the new Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, I even remastered iconic Forgotten Realms prestige classes (or paragon paths) to 5th Edition. The article can be found here, so let’s look over the remainder of my to-do list, we’re going to look over the Shadow Adept (Wizard tradition), Harper Agent (Ranger archetype), and the Red Wizards of Thay (Wizard tradition). Before you ask, what about some of the other iconic Forgotten realms roles, classes, or paths; there are several reasons for this, 1) I don’t want to spend a whole month writing class ideas just for the Forgotten Realms, 2) I have other content scheduled this year, and 3) by the time I get through every possible path or class, it’ll be November and the new supplement will be out. But I may offer my criticisms and review for the new Adventurer’s Guide when it arrives in store shelves.
The Shadow Adept are mages who either learned and tapped into the mysterious Shadow Weave, but interestingly many mages from the Empire of Nethril are considered members of this tradition. So the School of Shadow is probably what we’ll call this variation of an iconic character trope. In the original context of the class, the Shadow Adept had the ability to create a shield of shadows, walk through shadows, and even create a shadow double.
Shadow Defense: At 2nd level, the Shadow Adept becomes well versed in the ways of shadow magic, eventually learning to protect themselves from its effects. The Shadow Adept gains advantage on saving throws from Enchantment, Illusion, Necromancy spells, and spells that deal necrotic damage.
Tenacious Magic: At 2th level, the spells the Adept casts are pulled from Shar’s Shadow Weave which are different yet similar to conventional spells pulled from the Weave, but the fact that it comes from a different source makes them harder to resist and dispel. Whenever an non-allied creature dispels or uses Counterspell on the Adept’s spells, they have disadvantage on ability checks to dispel the spell effects.
At 8th level, the adept can also make one of their shadow spells (up to 5th level) extremely difficult to resist. Non-allied creatures have disadvantage on their saving throw against one of the Adept’s spells. Once the adept uses this feature, it cannot be used again until after a long rest.
Shadow Step: At 6th level, the adept gains the ability to step from one shadow to another. When in dim light or darkness, as a bonus action the adept can teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space they can see that is also in dim light or darkness.
Shield of Shadows: At 10th level, as an action, the Shadow Adept pulls the shadows to form an actual protective bubble. For 1 minute, the adept is treated as under the effects of the Shield spell, has advantage on saving throws from spells, and is considered to be in three-quarters cover. Once the adept uses this feature, it cannot be used again until after a long rest.
Shadow Double: At 14th level, the adept can use an action to a double of themselves made out of shadowstuff. The double has the same ability scores, base Armor Class, hit points, saves, skills, and proficiency bonus as its creator but no equipment. Any apparent clothing or equipment is nonfunctional.) The creator can mentally command the double to attack the creator’s enemies if given a weapon or items or function as the target of a Project Image spell, duplicating the creator’s actions and acting as the origin of the creator’s spells when it is within line of sight. Having either the creator or the double leave the plane they share causes the double to be dismissed.
The Harpers combat evil as a sort of pseudo-secret kind of organization, like S.H.I.E.L.D if you want a more relatable reference. Just like the Zhentarim, they have a wide variety of agents scattered across Faerun, they are known to help heroes and adventurers whenever it aids the cause, like uprooting a lich that has made a region its dominion, or thwarting the Cult of the Dragon, or even deterring Red Wizards of Thay (a subclass we’ll look at later). The Harper Agent is typically an informant, a spy, a warrior, and even dabbles in magic occasionally. With that image in mind, I decided to play the Harper Agent as a Bard College, besides the fact that in previous editions the Harper Agent was either a Bard or possessed Bard-like qualities so to me it made sense that in this 5th edition incarnation we attempt the same.
Tymora’s Luck: At 3rd level, the Harper Agent instills a bit of luck onto her allies just when the moment seems dire. A creature that has a Bardic Inspiration dice from the Harper, can use its reaction to roll the dice twice, choosing the higher of the results and add the number to their one ability check, skills check, or saving throws.
Deneir’s Eyes: At 3rd level, the Harper Agent can cast Comprehend Languages only as a ritual. If the Harper Agent knows the Comprehend Languages spell, they may learn a new spell from the Bard spell list.
Lliira’s Heart: At 6th level, the Harper Agent gains advantage on saving throws against charm and frighten effects.
Silvanus’ Voice: At 14th level, the Harper Agent can cast Speak with Animals and Speak with Plants only as rituals. If the Harper Agent knows the spells, they may learn new spells from the Bard spell list of the same spell level.
Mystra’s Boon: At 14th level, the Harper Agent has advantage on saving throws against spells. A creature that has a Bardic Inspiration dice from the Harper, can use its reaction to roll the dice and subtract the number rolled from the total damage from the spell (if the spell deals damage).
The Red Wizards of Thay or Red Wizards were once masterful wizards of their craft from the land of Thay. After the coup from the zulkir of necromancy, Szass Tam, the remainder of the red wizards were scattered throughout the Moonsea and beyond. As a result, the Red Wizards became a loose group of renegade wizards and magical merchants who call back to the former glory days before the Spellplague. A Red Wizard is an interesting wizard tradition, they were deeply specialized in one school of magic, they also learned to enhance their spells through circle magic, and their most iconic feature was their magic tattoo that was used as an arcane focus.
Because of the way 5th edition has worked in specialization, I feel that Red Wizards now have a lot more versatility than in previous editions and incarnations, so instead of a straight subclass option, I’m purposing something more radical. In the latter days of 3.5E and also seen within Pathfinder, the idea of alternative class features gave players the ability to swap features in classes to give additional layers of customization. Both to vary the style of play and to aid players in accentuating the visualization of their characters. That is the approach we’ll be viewing this option, which means that the features for this option need not only to be unique but offer a reasonable compensation for such sacrifices (otherwise it would lose it’s appeal).
Tattoo Focus: At 2nd level, the Red Wizard gains a magical tattoo that bestows great power and connectivity to the Weave. The tattoo is treated as a Rod of the War Mage +1 magic item, which represents a +1 bonus to spell attack and spell save DCs. The tattoo is also treated as an arcane focus when casting spells with spellcasting components. At 10th level, the Red Wizard gains an additional +1 bonus, for a total of +2 to spell attack and spell save DCs. To gain this feature, the Wizard must forgo the special class feature unique to each Arcane Tradition.
Designer’s Note: Here we are exchanging a traditionally unique Arcane Tradition feature for a static buff. Now keep in mind all of the specialist traditions still keep their “savant” feature of reduced gold and time to copy spells into their spellbooks. A static buff of this nature can be drastic and potentially game changing. Which is why I felt it made sense as a swap for a unique ability.
Circle Leader: Beginning at 6th level, the Red Wizard gains the ability to perform and lead Circle Magic. In order for a Red Wizard to initiate a magic circle, there needs to be additional participants to aid the circle leader. The Red Wizard can have a number of participants up to his Intelligence modifier, but must have at least two other spellcasters plus the circle leader. Only spellcasters with the Tattoo Focus class feature can participate in a Circle Leader’s spellcasting circle.
As an action, the participants may expend spell slots to be absorbed into the circle, which are then allowed to be used to empower the circle leader’s spells. These expended spell slots are converted into Sorcery Points (see Flexible Casting under the Sorcerer class) which are then converted into metamagic effects (as per the Sorcerer class) at the Circle Leader’s discretion. These Sorcery Points can never be converted into spell slots. These points last for 1 minute.
To gain this feature, the Red Wizard must forgo the Arcane Tradition feature gained at 6th level.
Designer’s Note: Woah! You’re lost your mind! I’m sure some of you think as you read this ability and it’s badly use of jargon and what not. While it may not be the most eloquently phrased feature, the intent hopefully is clear. Borrowing from the older rules of Circle Magic, this feature offers quite a powerful boost. But think about it from this angle, a Red Wizard Circle leader and two participants form a circle, one of the participants expends a 2nd-level spell slot, the Circle Leader decides to make his Fireball be affected by the Quickened metamagic (since it costs 2 sorcery points). So in a way, since now that many of the metamagic abilities cannot be stacked (unless otherwise stated) the potential for abuse is lessened. A fault that in previous editions (namely 3.5E) saw quite an interesting exploitation of the system. Adding a time limit to use the points also reduces the likelihood of abuse. Having access to all the metamagic? Ok that might need some work, but this is just a brainstorm.
Scribe Tattoo: At 10th level, the Red Wizard can impart the power of their tattoo on allies that do not possess a magic tattoo focus. The Red Wizard can impart the power of their tattoo to a single creature by touch as an action, the Red Wizard can use this feature a number of times equal to their Intelligence modifier (a minimum of once). The Red Wizard regains any expended uses after finishing a long rest.
To gain this feature, the Red Wizard must forgo the Arcane Tradition feature gained at 10th level.
Greater Circle Leader: At 14th level, the Red Wizard has reached the pinnacle with their circle magic and can now encompass an enclave worth of participants. The Red Wizard can now have twice their Intelligence modifier of participants in their circle magic.
Phew! That was rather fun to do, I’m rather excited for the new content coming our way in November. I want to see what ideas got approved for the masses to enjoy and devour. While 5th edition is fairly young, there are alot of people like myself who have been busy being creative with the mechanics to try to find that sweet spot of flavor and mechanics. These classes, like I said previously, are just my ideas what I would do if I were to bring such classic icons back to 5E. It has been confirmed that the Purple Dragon Knight is indeed in the soon-to-be release Adventurer’s Guide, so I guess for me I get to see how I stack up with the R&D guys. Should be fun. Thanks again for take this trip with us this week. Please feel free to leave comments and criticisms down below, like and follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates and random hilarity. May the dice be with you.