the Magus, First Draft

It was a close fight but, in the end, the Magus class received the majority of votes from the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co.’s Patreon backers! Hot on the heels of winning the vote I’ve drafted up a new version of the class just in time for the weekend – if you get the chance to play it, be sure to let us know here, at our subreddit, or by tweeting us!

In the full version of the Magus we took the Mystic Mark feature a bit further and used it to define what the class is. We also considered what unifying mechanics or themes the Magus should have given how different it’s archetypes were and settled on the Magus as THE spellcasting class amongst the half-caster classes – almost more like a three-quarters caster as realized by the Lesser and Greater Eldritch Surge features.

Whether you get the chance to test the Magus in play this weekend or just have some thoughts based on the document, I am in particular interested in hearing about the following features of the class.

  • How do you feel about the options presented in the Eldritch Armament feature? Are there any more you’d like to see? Are there any you think need revising – and if so, do you have suggestions regarding those revisions?
  • Which Eldritch Society is your favorite? Which is your least favorite? Why?
  • How do you feel about the current state of the Eldritch Society’s spell lists? Do any of the spells on the list worry you for balance or thematic reasons? Are there any spells you feel should be on the list but aren’t?

Thanks in advance for all your thoughts and I hope you enjoy the first full draft of the Magus!

the Magus, First Draft

UPDATE: the Magus Class Now Available on the DM’s Guild

11 thoughts on “the Magus, First Draft

  1. so a few things just to start. Overall, the class looks amazing and my group can’t wait to play it. That being said, there is already some confusion. For the ability Mystic Mark, one of my players asked if you could us it every turn of combat. I.e. Round one, he uses Aegis on himself, next round uses Enspell on his longsword maintaining the buff, round after he buffs the sorcerer and so it goes. A clarification on number of targets available at one time would help immensely. This also becomes a problem when talking about the order’s abilities. Would the Magus be able to use the Order’s Enspell and Aegis features at the same time?

    Second, Lesser Eldritch Surge. When I first read the ability, it read as you no longer require spell slots. Cast and slash as you please. Clarification at the beginning of the ability that this is a once per long rest ability will help the overall flow of the read. Nothing wrong with the ability, I think it’s cool, but needs clarification.

    Third, Sylvan Orders Aegis feature feels lackluster. So much resist poison or is just straight up immune that it’s almost not worth it to take. The Arcane is great with the short-range teleport, and the versatility of the Primordial’s elemental type makes it great with taking advantage of resistances. Maybe if the creature could be poisoned regardless of immunity it would make it worth it.

    Finally, I would request the Green Flame Blade cantrip to be at least on the Arcane Order’s spell list. It feels thematically correct, as back in the days of Path, you would do a Cleave feet tree and do a magical cleave, much like green flame blade allows.

    As for your questions, all of the orders look great. I love the versatility of the Primordial, a friend is absolutely giddy to play a intelligence gish who can actually cast spells again, and the druid in our party is considering taking a few levels in this to become a bit stronger out of beast shape.

    Otherwise, the class looks great. Thanks again for doing this.

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    1. Hey there!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m glad you and your group are excited about the class. I’m looking forward to getting it into its final form as quickly as possible!

      Yes, you can keep up as many Mystic Marks as you want at a time. If you want to spend three rounds putting an aegis on a new person each round you are more than welcome too. I think for the most part that won’t be a winning strategy with this class but you can do it if you want.

      Can you think of another class feature in the PHB that is a once per day that specifies at the beginning that it is only useable once per day? I try to follow the style of the PHB as closely as possible and I have noted that they seem to always mention the “once per long rest” clause at the end but if there is an example where that isn’t the case I would consider it.

      My feeling is that Sylvan Circle’s aegis is balanced by the fact that, when it works, it’s probably the best aegis of the three and, when it doesn’t, the Sylvan Circle still have some unique tricks that no other magus gets (mainly they are the only healing ES). A big part of the balance of the Eldritch Society’s is based around their relative areas of specialty (Arcane Order = utility, Sylvan Circle = utility, control, and healing, Primordial Seal = raw damage).

      Yes, I meant to re-read Green Flame Blade and include it and managed to forget to do so. I think it’s likely you’ll see it in the next draft. Actually, the next draft might include quite a few new cantrips and spells!

      Thanks again for all your thoughts. I will be taking them into account with the upcoming revision!

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  2. Looks really good so far, I’ll definitely be forwarding this to my DM to see about using it for our next game. Just going through the class now to find any nitpicks I might have.

    1) Eldritch Archer – While you gain this feature at 2nd level, the Enspell feature doesn’t actually have a damage type until 3rd level, judging by my reading of the Eldritch Society rules. (The Enspell and Aegis upgrades are sub-features of the Amethyst/Emerald/Tourmaline Mark feature was my interpretation, and all are gained at 3rd level.)

    2) Sorcerous Sentinel – Do the temporary hit points only last till the next turn like the AC bonus, or do they persist until lost? (I saw commentary on Reddit that someone thought the feature was too strong, I definitely disagree. After all, you can spend a 1st level slot as a reaction to gain a +5 bonus to AC with one spell.)

    3) Eldritch Armament – Gaining a second Armament feature seems like a nice dead level filler for 9th or 13th. It helps enable style switching, which always seems like a plus in my book. (I favor versatile characters over specialized ones.)

    4) War Magic, Improved War Magic – So glad you went in this direction, this is fantastic.

    5) Lesser Eldritch Surge – Probably a moot point at 20th level, but I think making it once per short or long rest makes for a more interesting capstone.

    6) Greater Eldritch Surge – Generally not a fan of the increased bookkeeping of having to look through an entire spell list, I’d probably prefer the ability to cast one particular 6th level spell once per long rest. (Like the Warlock’s Mystic Arcanum.) Still, 18th level, not a huge deal.

    7) Sylvan Circle – Love all of it. I do agree poison is the weakest damage type, but the Enspell and Aegis feature are both very strong, so I think it’s OK. And I love the short rest polymorph and the healing feature. I thought the polymorph might be a little strong, but I remembered this class is predominantly a weapon/cantrip attacker, so the polymorph will be predominantly for utility and debuffing.

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  3. 1) I’m a huge fan of each of the Eldritch Armaments; all of them feel balanced and useful in their own way, and there seems to be a great option for every type of weapon and playstyle.

    2) Despite the fact that Intelligence-based casters are my least favorite because I much prefer the exploration utility of a high Perception or the conversation utility of a high Charisma, my favorite Eldritch Society is the Arcane Order. I love the ability to deal force damage, teleporting around the battlefield to smite the fools that dare lay hands upon my friends, learn more spells, and recover spell slots.

    3) If I had to choose a least favorite, it would be the Sylvan Circle for one small reason: the self-polymorph more than once per long rest without using a spell slot feels way too powerful. The closest comparison to this feature I can find is the Circle of the Beast druid’s Wild Shape. At 7th level, they can turn into a challenge rating 2 twice per long rest, the transformation lasts significantly longer, they don’t have to concentrate, and, of course, they can heal themselves. Meanwhile, a Sylvan Circle magus can turn into a CR 7, which is leagues more powerful; in fact, a Beast Druid can never turn into a CR 7 unless their DM allows epic levels. For example, a CR 2 Polar Bear has 42 health, 12 AC, and can do an average of 21 damage per turn with a +7 to hit and a reach of 5 ft, while a CR 7 Giant Ape has 157 health, 12 AC, and can do an average of 44 damage per turn with a +9 yo hit and a reach of 10 feet, and it also gets a ranged attack. The power discrepancy only gets more noticeable as the magus levels up, though the vanilla Monster Manual’s most powerful beast is the CR 8 Tyrannosaurus Rex. The only real mitigating factor is the possible breaking of concentration, which almost never seems to be an issue, at least for the players in my campaigns and in my experience as a player.

    I kind of feel like a better balance of power would be to switch the levels at which the magus gains the Nature’s Mask and Font of Life features. At 14th level, I feel as though an each-rest-recharge free self-polymorph is actually pretty balanced, and I don’t feel a once-per-rest spell-slot-cost AOE heal is broken at 7th. Just my two cents.

    4) I like the spell lists how they stand, though custom magus cantrips and spells would be abundantly welcome (which I think you’re already planning on doing).

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  4. I had a friend introduce this class to me and I have been a big fan of 3.x’s Duskblade class so finding another possible 5e variant of this play-style is exciting for me and I found that this is a very interesting class for what it is… However as i read I had a few curiosities about it that does confuse me a little. Also apologize for the wall of text…
    ——————–
    1. For the [Mystic Mark] Feature, I think that the Spellcasting modifier number of uses is pretty good. This feature is something that really does give that theme of fusing your magic with your swordplay which I really missed seeing (outside of Paladin in the PHB and Bladesinger Wizard)
    It reminds me of the Bard’s bardic die which does bring up the question… Is there a particular reason why it doesn’t get placed on a short-rest timer much like the Font of Inspiration that the Bard gets? I feel that you will get around the same amount of uses by the end of an adventure day but it also does bring in that limitation of just over-abusing your stockpile of marks. I feel like it would make the ability a bit less number-crunchy and can encourage good decision-making on the player.

    2. I may be mis-judging the balance of it, but due to this being that real hybrid melee-mage, It was peculiar that there is no [Extra attack] feature. Would that feature make this class too powerful? I feel like it shouldn’t be too bad but If there is a good

    3. The Sylvan Circle’s Nature’s Mask seems really powerful to be on a short rest timer. I know its just polymorph but it does seem like a fairly strong tide-turning ability to have up as often as it can be.

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  5. I really like what you have done with this class thus far. I feel 5th edition is missing just such a class. I think the changes you made from your “early draft” to this newer draft are on point. I am torn between the Primordial and the Arcane Societies as my favorite. I like the idea of being able to give a weakness with the Primordial society, but I like the spell list of the Arcane Society better. I do have a few questions/comments though….

    1) The Arcane orders ability to teleport and attack through its aegis would make you want to carry a heavier weapon like a great sword, but only wearing medium armor makes that more difficult. You start to suffer from MAD. I know its a little out of bounds for some that a Magus get heavy armor proficiency, but making it an option just allows for more play styles. Magus has it eventually in Pathfinder. Duskblade in 3.x had it eventually too. Possibly swapping it out for the artisans tools or making it an alternative wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

    2) I second Green Flame Blade needing to be worked in. I like Minute Meteors too. They seem fitting for Primordial or the Arcane societies.

    3) Just curios, but why start with Hide armor instead of Scale?

    4) I second Polymorph from the Sylvan Circle needing some balancing. I think “per short rest” is to often.

    5) Why only 1 skill proficiency as opposed to 2?

    6) I am new to your work, but really like what I see. Do you have a Dragoon (Final Fantasy), or Witcher class write up?

    Please keep me posted so I can see future drafts, and purchase the final draft.

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  6. My ONLY complaint, and request for revision, is the arcane orbs cantrip. Being forced to target separate creatures with only a d6 damage die is really weak for the arcane order. They have the worse offensive cantrips and an overall lackluster level 1.

    Liked by 1 person

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